i'll be totally honest: the thought of being 30 freaked me (thefuck) out. and all throughout the week leading up to it, i was pretty much bummed out because that was how much i was dreading the thought and the sheer knowledge of it. what was it that was making it so hard (and scary!) to bid farewell to my 20s? i really had to dig deep with that one.

maybe it's not so much about saying age aloud. it was more so getting old that was filling me with borderline crippling distress. what can i say, it absolutely horrifies me to know that some day (quite possibly soon if i blink too many times!!) i just might lose mobility, sight, sound or, HORROR OF ALL HORRORS— all of the above. and not only that, i could very well be plagued with a myriad of diseases, illnesses, allergies, intolerances and God-only-knows-what-else. most tell me 30 is when the glorious downward spiral begins and i guess for as much as i openly embrace adventure, this slow expiring business is so, so terrifying!!!

"well, you'll still always be younger than me," booboo tells me. and though this is fact, this doesn't do much to alleviate the terror that resides in my heart. but bless this beautiful man who tried anyway.

my birthday present: a trip to an island that has held so much significance for me growing up.

it had been the first island vacation my entire family and i had been on with my uncle mindy and my aunt penny. it had been the first time my sisters and i had been allowed to have days of exploring the island all by ourselves without any adult supervision (and we'd felt so grown up!). it had been the first time i had ever sat in a kayak or even done an activity with my father, just the two of us. this special place is one so near and dear to me and now, returning some decade(s?) later with the love of my life, words fail to really describe how special a gift this truly was to me.

and what a weekend of firsts for us both it was, too!

our first ever vacation together as a couple. our first time on a jet-ski. our first couple's spa experience! (MY FAVOURITE.) it had also been my first time getting the opportunity to sing live to booboo, and the glitter-dusted cherry on top of my sparkly pink champagne cake? ACTUALLY GETTING TO MEET THE UNCLE LIM IN UNCLE LIM'S KITCHEN. after all these years of thinking it was merely just a (quirky) name for the signature evening-dining restaurant that specialises in serving chinese cuisine, we found out it wasn't the case and that not only has the entire restaurant's menu been created and constructed by uncle lim; it had been him who'd operated the restaurant all along right from day one of pangkor laut resort's official launching to the world.

what an absolute honour and unexpected treat. after all this time.

also worth mentioning, dinner one evening had been a super fun affair as the set-up had replicated varying stalls at a typical malaysian night market. there was lok-lok, satay, char kuey teow and a full on ulam station! my fourth date with booboo had been to a night market ergo, needless to say, i could not have been a happier child.

the length of days we'd stayed was really spot on. any lengthier and we would both have probably gotten bored. but it was difficult to part with the blue, blue sea and more than anything, it made my heart ache with homesickness for my island life in the maldives.

the older i grow, the more i know that this much is true: the best gifts aren't anything you find in stores and shopping malls. it is, and always will be, time with the people you love who love you right back. memories of making up after fights. laughing so hard you start choking and can't breathe. small, ordinary moments of wonder— like looking at the most beautiful face in the crowd and seeing only him, smiling back as i'm singing my heart out. and apologising to the alcohol-tinged audience over the microphone because "i'm crazy nervous, you guys. it's the first time i've ever sung to my boyfriend in public" and hearing them aww in unison.

amongst all the gifts i have received in life; it is Love that has been the utmost precious of all. no contest. and, thanks be to God.