#6 The First Leg of My Journey: Taipei Stop

A lot of people have been wondering what precisely am I doing in Taipei. I guess the ‘what’ is pretty obvious especially if you’ve been following my other social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook Fanpage)… I’m here to learn  中文 (Mandarin). 

The ‘why’ is what most people are pondering about. 

Hence, today, I want to share with you the WHAT, HOW, and WHY of the first leg of my journey!

photo 3THE WHAT

I am here in Taipei, Taiwan, to study Mandarin intensively. I am currently in my second week of classes and things have been going quite nearly as smooth as I imagined it to be, which is amazing. Absolutely in love with Taiwan… the food, the weather (nice cool 18-24 degrees celsius weather at the moment), the culture, the people… just everything! It’s not home but it’s surely starting to feel like it 🙂 Stoked to be getting in tuned with my Chinese side (about time, Nat… I mean, 棠羚 :p) and receiving the opportunity to pick up a new skill is truly such a blessing. However, I am sacrificing a lot of work back in Malaysia during this stint but that’s a blow my management and I have to absorb for the greater good!

Pretty simple. Booked flights. Booked an apartment. Signed up for intensive Mandarin classes. Aaaaaaaand, here I am! Wait, how intensive is intensive, you ask? I am taking 20 hours of Mandarin classes a week. That’s 4 hours each day, 5 days a week. And it’s not just about going to classes 4 hours every day. Once I get home, I spend at least 2 hours doing homework and revising and after that, to relax and for fun, I watched Taiwanese dramas. Yup, if I’m going get this whole learning Mandarin thing down, I need to do it right. It’s about full immersion. I can slowly feel like English deteriorating… but again, for the greater good! 

How long am I going to do this for? Well, prior to arriving to Taiwan, I gave myself a target of 2 months of full, intensive Mandarin learning and immersion. I guess I will see my progress as time goes by and if I seriously still suck by the end of 2 months, I will have to consider extending another month… so on and so forth.

Million dollar question. Okay, actually not really. Not yet. Haha <<< Me, being the optimist ;p SO! Why am I doing this? Some of you may already know or get the hint that I’m either:

a)    trying to breach the singing industry

b)    trying to breach the Chinese industry

The truth is… it’s both. But it’s mostly the latter. The reason why I’ve chosen to go into the singing industry is because of 2 super key points:

1.    My Chinese sucks balls.

2.    I’m short of time.

So, my Chinese isn’t great (a year ago, I was a full-on ‘banana’… Mandarin was as foreign to me as Arabic) but hey, I can sing in Chinese! So in a way, I can cheat a little because I don’t need my Chinese to be ridiculously fluent unless I want to be a Chinese host or get into acting.

Also, I’m not getting any younger. In fact, for the industry I’m in, I’m like… a grandma. But I’m still alive and kicking, which is what’s important to me! Better late than never, I say! Eternal optimist 🙂

Other than those 2 super key points, I’m choosing the singing path also because all I would need Chinese for is to attend interview sessions and communicate with music producers, directors, colleagues… showbiz-related peeps. And in my opinion, this requires much less fluency in the language than being a host or an actor. Catch my flow?

I guess it also helps that I truly do enjoy singing and I can play the piano while singing (yay for coordination skills!). Also, composing music and lyrics is a huge passion of mine.

But then, WHY the Chinese industry? Why not sing in English? On a business standpoint (can’t shake the financier in me), the Chinese industry is a vast market. Well, the ASIAN market is. But I’m Chinese (for the most part) so it doesn’t make complete sense to try and breach into the K-POP or J-POP world… although I’m sure learning Korean and Japanese from scratch would’ve been a ton easier! Mandarin is freaking hard, yo…

Thus, I have chosen the path of being an artiste in the C-POP industry. So, no, I didn’t just randomly picked this industry and career path. It was a well-thought out process. And a decision made about a year ago shortly after I snag the First-Runner Up title of Miss Universe Malaysia 2013.

However, I must admit, this Taipei stint is definitely a desperation attempt. I have been taking Mandarin classes in Malaysia for 6 months prior to my move but 4 hours a week of classes and being surrounded by English speaking friends was simply not the best environment to pick up the Chinese dialect from scratch. Nonetheless, it did give me a decent foundation for my move to Taipei…

With the amount of hours I’m spending on learning the language and my full immersion into a more Chinese environment, I have improved more in 1.5 weeks that I did in 6 months. In my opinion, it’ll only get easier. Picking up this language was seriously difficult at first… with all the distractions of work in Malaysia, friends and family obligations… and although it’s still difficult, I’m starting to get the hang of it.

I always loved a challenge and to me, the bigger the challenge, the more satisfaction you get when you achieve the goal you’ve set for yourself! As an eternal optimist, although I fear the unknown, I know that even if sh*t hits the fan, at the very least, I gained another skill that will likely be super useful in my future livelihood.


Now that you have a better insight into what it is I’m doing at this point in time, you may be thinking I’m either a big fat 傻瓜(pronounced ‘sha gua’ and directly translates as foolish melon) or a ridiculously ambitious dreamer, haha. I guess time will tell which of those I really am… For instance, if I succeed in this whole singing career IN the Chinese industry, I’d be a ridiculously ambitious dreamer that hopefully inspired a bunch of people. If I don’t succeed, although I may be called a ‘sha gua’, at least I can say I’ve tried and I would never live my life with the regret that I didn’t at least try.

I still have a long way to go… But I have a clear vision. I know exactly what I need and want to do and I’m giving it all that I can to get it done. So, for those of you who have my back, I thank you and appreciate the support you’ve given me thus far and I truly hope for your continuous support in the future!

photo 1
加油, 棠羚!
You can do it, Natalia!

No shame in pep-talking myself :p

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