In brief...

I'm a Nature-lover, aspiring conservationist, and wannabe traveller in search of outdoor adventure.
My interests vary from conservation to education to heritage to Nature (biodiversity & wildlife) to outdoor activities to life in general.
They occupy most of my waking moment.
Do read my blogs, follow me on Twitter (@jocelynesze) and friend me on Facebook (subject to my discretion). Visit my Nature blog, Nature Rambles, at http://natureramble.wordpress.com.

UPDATE 2 Apr 2017 - This site is no longer maintained, please visit jocelynesze.wordpress.com if you're interested in more recent writing.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

The final post.

It's been almost 3 months since I first entered this country, this strange long, narrow strip of land and sea on the South American continent. It'S the longest I've ever spent in a foreign country travelling, and though our trip was predominantly to Patagonia which includes Argentina, we did spend the bulk of our time in Chile. It's an amazing country, with wonderful landscapes and friendly people, one that I would like to come back to some other time. It's also a strange country - the cuisine doesn't warrant much shouting about, entailing lots of chips, various cuts of meat, mayonnaise, tomato sauce, and hotdogs, the language is one-of-a-kind (even spaniards don't always get it), and it's got a contrasting feel of being both a developed and a developing country at the same time. Almost all shops accept card, the Metro in Santiago (the capital) works really well, it's got a bustling economy, and things generally function. On the other hand, there are lots of street vendors and tours, even from the moment you land at the airport (airport taxi tourts, which is always the most expensive way of getting to/fro the airport). This trip isn't just about visiting Chile/Argentina though, unlike most of my travels. My friends and I obtained a grant from Imperial College London exploration Board, Jeremy Willson Charitable Trust, and a partial discount from Snow+Rock to embark on this expedition, the Greater Patagonian Trail.

There had been a fair amount of self development over the course of the expedition; understanding my physical limits, exploring my mental strength/comfort zones, figuring out how I fare when interacting in a group under stressful/prolonged situations, etc. More about the expedition can be found here.

After the expedition ended in mid Jan, a few weeks ahead of what we had planned, most of my time was spent in santiago trying to sort the rest of my life out. Among other things, I've decided to cease blogging on this site, after 10 years. Not gonna delete it, will just leave it as it is, as a memory of my ramblings about life from age 14 to 24.

(Would put a photo here but wifi won't work for my laptop and blogging from my phone on blogger is shite.)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Back in mainstream society.

After about two months of wandering down Chile and up Argentina, I'm back in a place with 24/7 wifi, fully stocked supermarkets at reasonable prices, a well-equiped gas-fueled stove kitchen, a bed, hot showers with shampoo/soap, and general shops where many things can be bought. It doesn't take long to get used to being back in a city/civilisation. Still, the demands of having to check/clear emails, reply those that require attention, responding to people who have messaged while I was out of contact, and most of all, trying to apply for a PhD and a job are quite overwhelming.

The expedition to Patagonia has been a fairly long and interesting one, and it'll take me a while to fully cover the expedition on my blog. One thing that I've decided to keep on from the expedition is my lack of use of Facebook. I won't be deleting my account - it's too vital now for communication - but I've decided to stop browsing Facebook timeline and while I'll still be posting on it (usually from Twitter or my blog), I've deleted the app on my phone and will (try to) refrain from going on the website on my laptop. I realised looking through random animal videos and various other things people post on Facebook adds fairly little to my well-being. Though I guess that might mean missing out on videos/articles that are actually worth perusing.


Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 - A more exciting year than average.

Note: this is a scheduled post, cos I am right now somewhere on this hike. This post was actually written in mid Nov, before I left wifi.

I don't really feel like I'm in that end-of-year reflective nostalgic mood yet, partly cos it is mid Nov right now and I'm about to start an adventure (so the contents might not quite match up to the title). But because I will be out of contact for a few months, especially Christmas and New Year and Chinese New Year, I feel compelled to at least schedule something to come out, in keeping with my blogging tradition of the past few years.

So I finished a masters this year, completed a research project that had been rather exciting (and learnt a lot of R coding and some Python along the way), did my first multi-pitch climb, red-pointed a couple of 7as in the climbing gyms, and had quite a bit of ups and downs over the year. This blog has been fairly dismal to be honest, this past year. But wells, such is life I guess. Ending the year on an adventure though, is probably a high that I cannot yet talk about.

On a less personal level, it's been a crazy year, with Brexit and Trump. How the world will be when I come back to wifi and the Internet, only time will tell.

I will probably have more to write about after I've had my own thoughts to ruminate on for 67 days. And I am looking forward to 2017, with all its uncertainties and unknowns. If anyone's got a job opportunity, drop me a message please, I'm not part of the unemployed ;)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Travelling solo.

I quite enjoy opportunities to travel on my own. The ability to go where I want when I want, without considering others. To be able to stop when I want. To have only my thoughts echoing in my mind and no other voices (though that it is sometimes also a pain). Of course there is also a heightened sense of alertness when I wander on my own. Of having to figure out things on my own with no one else to bounce ideas off. Freedom vs. security I guess, like so many other tradeoffs (for e.g. in Singapore). 

When I travel, I spend my time wandering streets somewhat aimlessly, going where my feet takes me, following the crowds. I look at people on the streets - the vendors, the beggars, the office workers, the kids, the elderly. All these labels for humans. I sometimes wonder what they think, how they feel. I find it hard sometimes, as a tourist, to walk the streets. Knowing that I at least had the money to travel halfway across the world, money to find a place to stay and food to eat, money to spend on attractions and travelling more. And seeing some people living on the streets and knowing they have barely a fraction of that. Yet I cannot be giving money to everyone - it is not mine to give anyway, being financially still dependent on my parents (and I've written about this but in the Cambridge context before). And so I don't know what to do, what I can do, beyond just thinking about that and saying a little prayer for each one as I walk past, on my way to some other tourist attraction, where they'll soon be put out of my mind. 

I gave some money to this guy who boarded our local bus yesterday, held up a photograph of him and his mum, and gave a spell about his mum who is ill and needs money for treatment (it was all in very rapid Chilean Spanish but I got the rough gist of it). He looked around the bus after his speech and looked into everyone's eyes, and most people avert. As we do when we walk past people on the streets. My friends whom I was with at that point think me a fool, cos how do you know it's not a scam (there are so many scams out there, of syndicates and drugged children and slavery to beg on the streets, or just people who could work but rather not.) But I think I need to keep giving people the benefit of the doubt and believe and have faith in humanity. 

In any case, I'll soon be travelling with constant companionship for a few months anyway, and being in as isolated a place as we will be, there'll be little chance for meeting people in such situations. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

This world we live in - Part II.

As many memes out there on the interwebs suggest, 2016 has been a seemingly terrible year for humanity and many people everywhere would like to hit the restart button. The American elections results which came in on the day I landed in Santiago, Chile (the whole election was done while I was in the air, in no man's land, uncaring of the going-ons of the world below me) was highly divisive, like Brexit results a few months ago. People are arguing about the results, and again like many other social issues people are arguing about the appropriate response to the results (whether being silent is condoning Trump and his ideologies, or how we should just accept what the people have decided they want or how we should all move on and realise humanity is bigger than this and Trump alone won't kill the USA/world etc.)

Yeah, this world we live in has many flaws. And I suppose it might seem to have taken a few huge steps backwards this year. But I think not. I think we can never really know how anything might turn out, and predicting the future is a tricky business. There are many little triumphs that have been scored on humanitarian and environmental fronts. And Planet Earth II came out, though I have yet to watch it.

It's not so much focusing on the good news and not being despondent about the future just because two major countries had elections in which the outcome seemed to favour backward regression on the humanitarian and environmental fronts. I think we should all try and live better, more thoughtfully, with more courage and kindness (something that stuck with me from watching Disney's 2015 remake of Cinderella), and hopefully with everyone doing that, the world will become a better place. Hope's the only thing that can keep us going.
"There can be miracles/When you believe/Though hope is frail/It's hard to kill" - When You Believe (Prince of Egypt)


Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Travelling with the parents.

Most young adults don't relish the prospect of travelling with their parents. It appears to be something that every young adult dreads once he/she reaches a certain age. But I suppose I have just been very blessed to have parents whom I enjoy travelling with, parents who have been able to travel out to meet me (in various parts of the world) and make my parting from home less severe.

Sure, there is always having to learn again how to get used to them taking 2 hours to get ready to leave the house, the need to boil water to drink even with potable tap water, and endless photo-taking. But that doesn't make for terrible travel companions, it just requires adjustment on my part. And I always get awesome food in exchange.

I'm glad my parents travel like me; or perhaps that I've learnt to travel like them. Budget travel, tho they are more willing to spend than me, and shop more than me. Happy to just wander and walk around cities without specific places to visit.

I get my travel bug from them probably. And my more easy going nature. And budget travel tendencies. And I'm glad they've always been supportive of my travels even when it worries them endlessly.

Best parents ever, who always pack 20kg of food to meet me and cook for me :)

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Last farewell to the UK.

It's my last few days in the UK on a student visa. When I next return in May for graduation, I'll be on a tourist visa like most other people. I'm still not feeling the nostalgia very much; perhaps because the next thing coming up in my life is a rather epic 67 day hike through Patagonia. I was quite nostalgic last year when I was leaving for Cambridge, when I was thinking that perhaps I might not have another year in the uk. But I've had a whole proper calendar year now in the uk, and I feel like I'm ready to leave.

I've had a whole cycle of autumn leaves, blackberries, and apples; winter chill, minimal snow, and lots of heating; spring blooms of daffodils, bluebells, and foxgloves; summer rains, not much sun, and pressing deadlines; and back again to the fall with its Indian summer. I've gone on many more hikes and climbs than I did in the previous three years and visited many more quaint English/Welsh villages. Highlights include Snowdonia, Lyme Regis, Isle of Portland, Forest of Dean, and the Yorkshire Dales.

Like many others who spent their university years here, I'll always have fond memories of this country and cheesy as it sounds, always have a soft spot for the uk. Even with Brexit. I don't want to stay here much longer, but I've had an enjoyable, formative time here. It's undeniable I've changed over the last four years, and especially so over the last. But I don't think I've changed fundamentally, and I am very much at peace with myself and who I am.

I've made some very good friends, some I know I'll keep for life, even if we aren't in the same geographic vicinity. I've picked up a slight? Britishness to my (non-Singaporean) accent, and I understand British culture and humour much more. I've had a really good education with opportunities that I would not be able to get elsewhere. And ultimately I'm just really thankful I've had the chance to come here and do what I did, with the full support of my parents.

I talk endlessly about singapore and being a Singaporean and being overseas. I guess I'm now part of the crowd that's 'too foreign for home, too foreign for here, never enough for both' (quote by Ijeoma Umebinyuo). In terms of mindset and values, perspectives and opinions. In some ways I guess I'm ironically labelling myself and putting myself in a box, but part of me just wants to record my thoughts and emotions at this juncture, regardless of how much I might cringe to read it later (or for others to read).

Anyway, it's a whole new world out there, endless possibilities and options if I make the effort/make certain decisions. Honestly, never have I felt more uncertain about the future, or more free. For once, I actually don't have much of a plan beyond this upcoming hike. Even when I took my gap year before starting undergrad, I had a job lined up and plans to fill the coming months/year. It's gonna be an interesting time, I think.

The UK has got some pretty moments when you can actually see the sky. Winspit Quarry.