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UPDATE 2 Apr 2017 - This site is no longer maintained, please visit jocelynesze.wordpress.com if you're interested in more recent writing.

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.