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About Me

About Me
CrystalPhuong.net is a Personal Style & Travel Blog based in Singapore, written by Crystal Phuong. The blog was nominated FOUR times in Top 10 Best Fashion Blogs in the annual Singapore Blog Award from 2012- 2015, voted as one of the Best Lifestyle Blogs in Singapore in 2013 by Hotelclub.com, and Best Travel Blogs in 2016 by Foodpanda.com. Crystal hopes to connect and inspire young women to lead a healthy and happy life. Be confident, be positive, and be kind.
Showing posts with label LIFE WITH CRYSTAL. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LIFE WITH CRYSTAL. Show all posts


Let me start this post with a punch line: I'm engaged! 

Over the last 17 years since I left Vietnam, I have listened to the question "When will you get married?" countless times. My simple answer was, "One day, I'll talk about marriage when I'm ready." Today is the day. 

Every Lunar New Year, the same question came up again from multiple people. Whenever my parents introduced me to their friends, after the question, "How old is she?", "What's she doing?" was "Is she married?". First, I was ok as I was used to it. It's my culture. Then, I got irritated when people started telling me how to live my life and advising me, "You quickly find a husband, have kids, and take care of the family. Don't work too much and travel too much." It got worse when people made jokes about women who are 30 years old and above unmarried being left on the shelf pass the "expiry date." How did I deal with these jokes? I ignored. 

In Vietnam and other Asian countries, many women want to get married because they are under family and societal pressure; they want to have kids by a certain age, change their passports by getting married to a foreign man, and want to change their life. Growing up in a country where marriage is a must-be done by a certain age, I fell into the same belief that marriage is the ultimate life goal of a woman. I set an ideal timeline for myself when I'd like to get married. 23, 25, 27. 29 years old. Those are considered auspicious ages for a girl to get married. I tried to follow this advice, but I failed. Every time I failed, I questioned myself, "Why?". Dad told me that I was too stubborn, too strong. He was very worried about me. Mom said I should be more realistic, less picky, and stop daydreaming. Then, some of my married friends told me, "If you want to find a husband, he might be boring. As long as he takes care of you, it's good enough. If you want to have a fun, passionate, and adventurous type of man, they'll always have commitment issues. You need to lower your expectation."

For years, I've been wondering, "Am I too demanding?", "Should I be more accommodating in the relationship?" "Should I reduce the number of boxes on my "Ideal Husband" list?", "Do I have a commitment issue?" After running away from a few marriage proposals, at 30, I started questioning myself, "Why do I want to get married?". Then, I came up with several reasons. I wanted to get married because I was getting older, I wanted to get married because my parents wanted to get married. I wanted to get married so that I could have a better life. I wanted to get married because I wanted to have kids. I wanted to get married so I could get a new passport. Lastly, I wanted to get married because I wanted to wear a wedding dress (this is the silliest one). 

Nothing's wrong with the reasons above. Everyone's needs are different, and everyone has the right to decide what works best for them. But when I took a step back and looked at what marriage really meant to me, I realized these were the wrong reasons for me to get married. By the time I turned 35, my view on marriage had changed, and so did my ideal type of life partner. Family, relatives, and friends stopped asking me when I'd get married (they got tired eventually). My parents slowly understood my perspectives. I'm not the typical, traditional Asian woman whose life and happiness depend on her husband. I have my own life and decide who deserves the VIP ticket to join me on this ride. I stopped comparing my life with people my age who married early and now have 2-3 grown-up kids with a big house and car.

Everyone has their timing. I'm not ahead or behind. I'm where exactly I need to be. Instead of waiting for my future husband to show up, I chose to focus on my career, finance, mental and physical health, and happiness. Work became my best friend to distract me from the negative thoughts about the unforeseeable future. I was at the mental stage that I would be fine being single if I couldn't find anyone worth getting married to. I no longer want to get married so I can have financial stability. I make and manage my own money. If I want to have kids, many options are available nowadays for single moms-wanna-be. I don't need a man to make me happy because I'm already happy being alone. If someone comes along who adds more value, more fun, and more experiences to my life, that's great! If not, I'd rather fly solo. I'm not asking for millions of dollars in their bank account, a big house, a car, a business class ticket, or luxury vacations. Integrity, kindness, intelligence, love, open communication, and patience are some qualities I was hoping to see in a man. Why would I need to lower my expectations to meet somebody's low standards? I found it hard to understand that advice.

I stopped talking about my love life publicly 7 years ago. Not because I didn't want to or believe in love. I feared it would end quickly as soon as I made the relationship public. It happened a few times in the past, making me think that some evil spirits from another universe cursed me. Despite going through many heart-breaking experiences and ups and downs in the relationship, I still believe in true love. I believe there is someone out there who is my equal and made just for me, someone who loves wholeheartedly and cares deeply, who is compassionate, respectful, loyal, and truthful. I just hadn't met him yet, I thought. But I was wrong. 

I already met him 13 years ago. I'll share the story about how we met in another blog post. Despite the short first meeting, the unique situation of how we met, the timezone difference, and the thousands of miles apart, we remained friends. He was the one who always reached out to wish me Happy Birthday and Happy New Year and checked in to see if I was ok. I kept him in the friend zone for a long time until one fine day in 2022; we met again after five years at a train station. It felt like coming home. I felt safe, comfortable, and free. I didn't have to hold the weight of the world inside me. I didn't have to tiptoe around him and filter my words before communicating. He watched me grow from the young girl who struggled to find out what I wanted in life to the woman I am now, who knows what I want and goes for it. I was so busy looking for a Prince Charming, not realize he was walking side by side with me all these years. 

To my fiance, thank you for showering me with a ridiculous amount of love every day. You accept me for who I am and are forever my number 1 fan (this is your words). You laugh at my silly jokes, cheer me on my tough days, and show me how easy yet profound love can be. I can't help but think we were made for each other. God is good. He let us go through many "tests" and made us become a better version of ourselves before we met each other again. I'm excited about our next chapter together, and I can't wait to marry my best friend! 

This is the easiest Yes I've ever said in my life. 

To all the girls and women out there who are still hoping to find your Prince Charming, don't give up Hope. Everything will happen when the time is right. Greg & I first met in 2009, but we didn't end up being together until 2022. Don't change so people will like you. Change only to improve yourself. Be yourself, and the right people will find you. Good luck! 

Crystal Phuong

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And just like that, my favorite month of the year- November, came to an end. It's the period when I find myself going through the introspection process a lot. My birthday is at the beginning of the month, and Thanksgiving is towards the end. Plus, the rainy weather in Singapore happening in between makes a perfect time to stay in, have a coffee, and reflect.    

Last year, I was lucky that the government lifted the social distancing rule just before my birthday; hence, I could still celebrate with some friends. But, unfortunately, the restriction was extended this year, and only two pax dining and visitors were allowed. So, instead of having five people gathered for dinner or lunch, I had five meals with different friends the entire week. Most of the celebrations were in my new home. It was the first time in 12 years living in Singapore; I hosted birthday parties at home. It was a unique, special, and memorable birthday indeed. 

When I was ten years younger, my birthday didn't mean so much to me. I didn't find joy in celebrating getting older, becoming chubbier, having more wrinkles. I wish I were forever 25. Turning 30 was fun, remarkable, but scary. I have some female friends who are older than me; they responded, "I'm 40 years old already", "OMG, I'm 45 this year," when I wish them "Happy birthday." Some are at 39 years old but already feeling down thinking about turning 40 in 10 more months. I have not heard any male friends complaining about turning 40, 45, or even 50 yet. But women, we do this to ourselves, all the time. Why?

I was the victim of my negative thought and insecurity before, so I understand these feelings very well. But, what could we have done to stop our number from going up? Nothing, unless our time is up and our clock stops permanently. Saying it out loud helps change my perspective completely. I'd rather like my age to go up every year as long as possible. I'm sure you would too, wouldn't you?  
And that's why the older we get, the more we should celebrate our birthday well. Instead of feeling worried about getting old and ugly, we should focus on creating memories, living well, and making the most of every day with people and things that matter to us most.

Despite the Covid restriction, I still had a wonderful time celebrating with some old and new friends, which I appreciated so much. There are still many super close friends that live far away from me. I wish we could celebrate with them in person soon. For now, here are some throwback photos from the celebrations of my 37 trips around the sun. Many more ahead!

Pre-birthday dinner at home with my ex-colleagues.

Steamboat dinner at home prepared by yours truly. Thanks Roger & Benjamin for always supporting me at work. I'm gonna miss working with these 2. 

First birthday cake of the year, thanks to Benjamin!

Surprised breakfast delivered to the home by a mysterious man. :D  

Surprised birthday flower delivery! Love it so much! Thank you Faith! How could I not see this coming when you asked for my home address. So cheeky! 

Birthday staycation at Fairmont Singapore, special thanks to Accor!  

another surprised birthday cake. 

and birthday dinner at Skai Restaurant. Thanks to Emmanuel, the General Manager for the champagne treat. 

Ready for another birthday brunch! 

With Anna, whom I'd like to call my guardian angel. Thank you for always listening and helping me grow over the last 4 years. I can't believe we finished all the food and still stay so skinny :D

Another day, another meal. Brunch with the man in the afternoon

Happy hour and chill with the girls in the early evening. It's so lovely to finally be able to invite my new friends, Sylvie and Chloe to my new place. Three of us went to view the same house at the same time without knowing each other. Then, five months later, we were here. How amazing life brings people to you sometimes.   

Another birthday cake, courtesy of American Express. They really know how to treat their customers. 

I went out to have a lovely dinner with one of my male best friends for the post-birthday celebration.

If only every Monday looked like this.

The last birthday cake this year. 

Dhilip- one of the most kind-hearted, sweet, funny, and silly men whom I've been lucky to know for 4.5 years now. Our relationship has many titles over the year: from colleague to a friend; from friend to a work competitor; from a competitor to brother and sister. Thank you for your unconditional support in work and life. Your loyalty and friendship mean so much to me, especially at a time like this. 

How many more trips around the sun can I take? I don't know. One thing I know for sure is as long as I can still breathe fresh air and see this gorgeous view from up here, it's a good enough reason to celebrate. I promise that I'll never whine about getting old ever again. I hope you'll also have a fresh perspective about your birthday celebration after this post. 

Thank you so much for reading!  
Crystal Phuong

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Crystal Phuong- Home Decor

I couldn't find a more appropriate time than my birthday to share one of the big news about my life with you. If you still follow my Instagram, you've probably already known that I decided to move to a new house mid of this year. When I spoke to some of my friends about this decision, everyone seemed surprised as they knew how much I loved my old place. I even invested time and money to redecorate it and blogged about it here. Then, less than a year later, one day, while I was reading a book about getting out of the comfort zone, all of a sudden, my mind spoke to me, "Crystal, it's time to move." Then the fear held me back and said, "But you've invested so much in this place? How to find such a spacious bedroom elsewhere? Why need to leave when no one asked you to". That conversation repeated in my head for months, plus other factors to consider. I couldn't decide, so I relied on faith. Typical Asian me, I know. But experiences have proven to me many times that if something is meant to be, it will happen. So I keep holding to that thought whenever I have to take the leap of faith. Some people relocate so easily like they change clothes. I admire them. When I left Vietnam for Malaysia and left Malaysia for Singapore, I had only 2 pieces of luggage. 12 years later, I had 30 large carton boxes, 5 pieces of luggage, and dozen pieces of furniture to take with me. Hence, moving house is my worst nightmare. Besides, it reminds me of the teenage memories where we had to move house every year for nearly 10 years. It was sad.   

I tried to stay as long as I could. Then, a couple of things happened that made me feel like it was the right time to change. After a few months of thinking and seeking advice from my most trusted group of people, I finally decided to move out and move forward. That was in April 2021. 

I viewed nearly 20 houses within one month. Tiring, frustrating, disappointing, exciting, drooling, disheartening were the emotions I processed every week whenever I went for house viewing. And yet, in my mind, I was so sure that I'd find the house, or the house would find me. I viewed the last house on May 2nd, and it was not even on my top 3 list. But people often "Save the best for last.", who knew the Universe was doing the same to me. I was curious about the last house. 

As soon as the car arrived at the condo entrance, I heard the soothing sound of the water fountain. Almost immediately, I felt like this could be the place that I call home. By the time I took my first few steps in the house, I knew I no longer had to schedule another viewing after that. It felt right. Right time, right place, right people. 

June 8th, I moved to a new house. It was an auspicious day, as advised by my Dad. The house was empty without any furniture. It's like a blank canvas for me to paint a new artwork. Although I'm terrible at painting, I'm not too bad at home decoration, I think. 

It took me 2 months to turn this empty space 

Crystal Phuong- Home Sweet Home

into something I'm proud to call HOME. 

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 2

It's much smaller than my last house, but it's cozy, bright, and windy. Exactly how I like it. 

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 3

I buy fresh flowers every week as they make me happy looking at them. I enjoyed staying home during the lockdown before, but I love spending every minute in my new home much more now. A perfect morning routine to me (if I'm not working) is switching on the water fountain, opening the window, playing soft piano music, having my coffee and breakfast, reading a book, or playing with my piano. It's simple yet so satisfying. 

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 4

Moving from a big house to a smaller one has turned me into an organized freak, in a good way, of course. You can tell from my work desk with no messy cables around, considering the number of devices I have. Wait until you see how I organized my closet. I'll save that for the Instagram stories maybe, so do follow me if you want to see.  

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 5

This year, I've taken a big step back from social media. I went completely offline for a few months and didn't miss it at all. As if packing, moving house, and working weren't busy enough, I decided to go back to school. I took a couple of leadership & management courses from Harvard Business School Online to improve my skills and knowledge. More importantly, it was my dream to study at Harvard when I was in college. I couldn't do it then, so I do it now. As a result, I barely had 8hrs a day to sleep, but when these two certificates came into the mail, they made all the sleepless nights worth it. I'm still not done with my study, and I still have two more certificates to earn. But I can finally cross the "Study at Harvard" off the younger Crystal's bucket list. What's on the older Crystal's bucket list? Well, it's for another blog entry. 
For now, here are some more photos from my lovely place. Oh, I also started learning piano. Why? I don't know. Covid made me do it. 
Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 6

May the new home be filled with sunshine, love, and abundance.  
Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 7

A typical breakfast at C's! 
Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 8

Coffee with Crystal corner! 
Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 8

Having a clean, organized kitchen motivates me to cook more at home now. The spice and condiment containers are bonuses.  

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 9

I have a much smaller bedroom in the new house, and I don't have a walk-in closet anymore, so I had to be super creative about keeping all the shoes and bags. Although it's smaller, it's super cozy, clean, and comfortable.

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 10

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 13

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 14
These babies have a new home and I think they are happy 
Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 11

The beauty corner
Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 12

Once a while when I feel like I need a at-home spa day. 
Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 15

An afternoon walk after work in the neighborhood has become routine every week. I can never feel upset looking at this view, especially with a sunset view like this.  

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 18

This view never gets old. 

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 17

Every time I look at this, I feel immensely grateful for many things, especially this year. The global pandemic lasted much longer than we all expected. So many people lost their family members, their jobs, their hopes, and their dreams. Yet, I moved to a bigger house. Saying this out loud made me feel that I'm so spoiled. But the truth is, after 16 years of living abroad, moving from a shared bedroom to a storage room, from a storage room to a partitioned room (picture below), from a partitioned room to a master bedroom.

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 19

Finally, I moved from a master bedroom to a whole house. 

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 20

It was a significant change that I didn't see it coming myself. But here I am celebrating my 37th birthday in my lovely home with a grateful heart.

Crystal Phuong- Home Decor 21

Thank you to my family, my guardian angels, for guiding me on my journey! Thank you to my friends for staying with me through ups and downs and supporting me! For now, I need to go to sleep (it's 4.09am) so I can have energy to celebrate tomorrow. 

Thank you so much for reading!

Crystal Phuong

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[name=Crystal Phuong] [img=https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-2rX6quipNhI/XFfam4j35qI/AAAAAAAADZ0/AFDn5ZbYgqYT6sRbDXwMStFHz5PPDHFMgCK4BGAYYCw/w345-h245-c/Crystal-Phuong] [description=Singapore Travel & Lifestyle Blogger, hoping to connect and inspire young women to lead a healthy and happy life] (facebook=https://facebook.com/crystalphuong) (twitter=https://twitter.com/ncrystalicious) (instagram=https://instagram.com/crystalphuong)