Sunday, November 11, 2012

Where did the bunny sprint to?


Eh what happened to the white canvas, the colourful banner, the Navel Gazer avatar that you normally see when you click on

Don't worry. My website is currently undergoing a makeover, so as a temporary measure, I'm redirecting traffic to my old blogspot website.

You won't find any of the articles I've written between May 2011 and now, but you can always have fun trawling through my old published stuff.

Which I'm doing right now. And it's making me go all nostalgic *Sniff*

Will post when the new baby is ready to rock and roll! :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My own home :)

Dear friends,

My own website is finally up and running, thanks to my readers Chris Goh, an internet entrepreneur in USA, and Peter Wang, an Ipoh-based design enthusiast :)

It's still a work in progress, but I think it's ready for the public eye now.

Please hop over to If you have any suggestions for improvement, feel free to let me know. Just send me an email at

Thanks in advance!


Saturday, May 7, 2011

The artist in geek's clothing

Some of the headlines that the Star folks come up with are truly ingenious. For example, I'd never have come up with "Naughty children make good teachers" or "The Wongs watch Sivaji" in a million years. Never!

This time, however, I was really happy that they used my suggestion, The Artist in Geek's Clothing, because I felt it truly captured the essence of the message. Yes, writers usually supply the headlines but the editor/editorial team reserve the right to change it as deemed suitable. Which is a blessing, as headline writing was never my forte and I'm glad they didn't go with some of my lame attempts!

I wrote this while aboard the ETS back to Ipoh. I was replying to my editors when it suddenly struck me, hey, this is not something which is common years ago, yet that day, there were at least one or two other 20- and 30-somethings fiddling with their laptops in the same coach.

Times have changed - and to thrive, we must adapt to these changes, or risk left behind.

Many thanks to Peter Wang, a reader turned good friend who contributed the cute caricature which perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the article :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Busy bee

It's been a busy, busy two months! Aside from usual columns

I've notched up:

An interview with the lovely and gently funny Yvonne Lee. A dream interviewee - accommodating (no diva attitude, this girl!), takes the time to craft well-thought-out answers that ooze personality and wit.

A story about the Sun Yat Sen trail and an interview with the irrepressible founders of We Are Ultra in Going Places March 2011 issue.

An interview with artisan baker Su (who turns out to be from my alma mater Tarcisian Convent!) from Delectable in Going Places April 2011.

An incredibly fun five days at MIFF 2011, a regular gig for the last few years - and surprisingly educational. The fun factor had everything to do with the fabulous team that gelled very well together (miss you Li Jin, Li Shian and Shantini!). And educational? This year, we had one of the best editors I've ever had the pleasure of working with, Matt Young. Unbelievable how he turned ho-hum cliches into verbal gold and breathed life into the limpest of sentences. Aargh, hate him! :P

Then there was this Starmag feature on women advocates Dr Evelyn Ho and Dr Ho Choon Moy,, a spinoff from the mega-project I did for Malaysian Women's Weekly last year, Great Women Of Our Time awards.

Tired, typing all that out!

Will post more pictures when I have time. Time to tear my eyes off the computer screen now. Good night!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Stranger in a Train

29 January 2011
Trivial Pursuit, Weekender, The Star

Though some truly amazing things have happened to me by virtue of this column, I would have laughed till I was blue in the face if you had told me a year ago, that the it-could-only-happen-in-movies events in "Stranger in a train" would take place one day.

But happen it did. And things are still happening. And as I reel from the extraordinary strangeness of reality that we live in, I find myself wondering: what lies ahead for the rest of 2011?

To all my readers, thank you for a brilliant start to the year. I've always suspected that I've gotten more out of the column than I've given it, and the avalanche of encouraging letters, emails, facebook messages and smses just proves it.

Mere words will never suffice to convey my feelings when I read your heartfelt responses to my article.

Maybe emoticons will do the job?


Or, a photo maybe?

Love you all!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Great Women of Our Time 2010 - Malaysian Women's Weekly

If you'd told me earlier that we had such accomplished altruists amongst Malaysian women, I would have snorted with disbelief.

Well. I take back my words.

Like many people I know of, we Malaysians don't give enough credit to ourselves.

Doing this project, one of my major ones for 2010, was a huge eye-opener. For every Gloria Allred, we have our very own Dr Hartini Zainuddin; for every Carly Fiorina, there's Ng Wan Peng.

Why fixate on occidental overachieving scientists like Marie Curie when we have somebody like Datuk Choo Yuen May in our midst?

And forget Gray's Anatomy - who knew doctors looked so hot??

For most parts, these women have smashed glass ceilings with quiet dignity, paving the way for other women to stretch their limits.

Editor Elaine Kwong delivered a memorable speech about how the greatest lesson that these ladies impart to us is that inside each of us, is a heroine waiting to be unleashed.

A project of this scale and complexity is no cakewalk. It's more than just multiple photo shoots and doing justice to 18 over-achieving women and their mile-long roster of accomplishments in under 350 words.

I had a bigger problem to grapple with: after every interview, I wanted that person to win!

Decision-making tugs-of-war aside, GWOT definitely ranks as one of the most rewarding experiences in my writing career. And I mean that in a literal sense as well.

At the end of the GWOT award ceremony, which included a sizzling performance by Sheila Majid (yup, she's still got it), all of us who stayed till the end of the dinner got to cart home an Osim uMama massager :P

Drool at the eye candy :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Ipoh of Yore

25 December 2010
Scratching Post, Weekender, The Star
Link to Star article

I'd like to thank Ian Anderson from Ipohworld for kindly contributing the two evocative photos used in this article.

Ipohworld, an education-based, not-for-profit organization, has done some truly remarkable work in promoting awareness and appreciation of Perak, with particular focus on Ipoh. It has become the leading information archive on Ipoh's heritage, as well as the liveliest online community for Perakeans.

Give them a shout at

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

From court shoes to bunny slippers

Hi! My name is Alexandra Wong – Alex for friends – and I’m a word geek.

Translation: I write for a living.

I developed serious word lust at primary-school age, a condition which I attribute cheerfully to Enid Blyton's mouthwatering picnic basket descriptions. In retrospect, the truth is much more Machiavellian (more about that later)

After graduating with a degree in English Literature, I worked my way up to sales manager in a Fortune 500 Company. The money was mostly good and occasionally obscene. I did well enough to win a couple of sales awards along the way, but something wasn’t quite right.

I found out what when my subordinate chattered excitedly one day, “Alex! Do you know how much commission we’ll be getting this quarter?”

She whispered the figure.

I dutifully widened my eyes. “That’s fantastic!”

I tried to look euphoric, but I obviously failed, because HER eyes widened and she went, “You really don’t like money huh?”

Well I wouldn’t go that far … but yeah. Money, alone, isn’t enough to rock my socks.

So I quit to find out what did. Rock my socks, I mean. I had no idea what the hell I was going to do with my life, so I did the next best thing: soul-searching.

I travelled. I figured there was a good chance I would come back with a more definite idea how I was going to put food on the table. You know, travel broadening one’s horizons and all.

So I backpacked to Kuching. Visited Turkey. Stayed in the US for 7 weeks.

I had a ball. Those experiences were too good to keep to myself, or worse, get forgotten, so I started a blog (which I’ve locked up, sorry). My small but loyal audience seemed to enjoy my stories. Heck, my friend’s MOM started following my blog.

That got me thinking. Hmm, maybe I could try getting them published? No harm trying.

So I began sending out pitches. To my surprise, all my stories got published without much trouble.

An idea began germinating … Maybe I could make a living out of writing commercially?

My baby steps into the writing world - as a serious career - began with travel articles, then navel-gazing pieces, then food reviews, then culture, then other topical issues …

Before I knew it, five years had passed. And today, on 16 November 2010, I find myself still happily scribbling about life, love and the universe - when I’m not tearing my hair out in stress that is.

That's how I made the transition from court shoes to bunny slippers.

Writing portfolio
My reports on travel, trends, food, relationships, information technology and personality profiles have made their way to numerous bastions of great writing publications. The list now includes publications with international audiences like Going Places (Malaysia Airlines inflight magazine), Malaysia Women’s Weekly, IntervalWorld (USA) South China Morning Post, Bangkok Post, Quill and Kuala Lumpur Explorer. Although I’ve written for all kinds of genres and covered all sorts of subjects, I am best known for my first-person accounts in Navel Gazer (where I try to be funny and touching and fail most of the time, but one must persevere!), my monthly column for Malaysia's highest-circulation English language daily The Star.

My work falls chiefly into two categories:

1. Media work. The abovementioned.

2. Corporate and commercial work. I develop editorial content across multiple mediums that serve as calls to action for a target audience. In English, that’s marketing and advertising collateral (corporate videos, newsletters, show dailies, press releases) and non-print media (websites and tv scripts).

I have also ghost-edited manuscripts for several Malaysian best-selling authors.

I am also a solopreneur. In 2008, I registered the enterprise WordMatters.

Academic Qualifications
My happiest academic years were spent in Universiti Sains Malaysia.

I hold a Bachelor of Arts in English Language & Literature with a minor in Mass Communication.

I still wonder how a ditzy bunny like me made it through that wilderness of William Thackeray, Philip Larkin, and Shakespeare *dramatic shudder*

I divide my time between my hometown Ipoh; Penang, where I spent my formative adult years, and Kuala Lumpur, which I loathe and love in equal measures.

I've worked out of hotels, coffeeshops, cafes, friends' apartments, my car - I parked it by the roadside to key an epiphany into my handphone.

I am an egalitarian.

I am a pop culture fiend.

Some have dubbed my literary taste questionable. It certainly isn't very highbrow. It spans everything from Grapes of Wrath, to Chinese Tea Culture, to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, to blogs like Perez Hilton, Go Fug Yourself and Cracked.

On days when I feel like being a literary smartypants, I lurk at Slate, armed with a dictionary.

My ideal woman would be a Frankenstein of these parts: Katy Perry’s body, Lady Gaga’s chutzpah, Helen Mirren’s agelessness, Adam Lambert’s pipes and Douglas Adams’ funnybone.

Why I still write
I still get a kick out of seeing my byline :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

No beef

Weekender, The Star, Scratching Post

No, I didn't write this headline but it was worth a chuckle anyway.

Wonderful friends ...

...and wonderful pizza :)

... Sepuluh ringgit sahaja! (Obviously I like eating here very much, and not just because it's eminently affordable)

Though the question was at the back of my mind the WHOLE time when I called Frank on Sat night, I waited till the end of our phone conversation before asking timidly, "Where did you go for dinner?"

"AJ. Ta pau."

"Were there anybody who came because of the article?" Gulp. Nervous. Sweat.



He continued grimly, "A LOT of people. Some cancelled their orders. What to do? He said philosophically. They all came at one shot."

This is one of the reasons I didn't want to write a full-length feature about AJ's Pizza and Pasta. Having tasted the consequences second-hand at Vary Pasta (the writer was so traumatized that he ate his pork knuckle dinner in quiet terror, while the waiters dashed about in a tizzy attending to the avalanche of customers), I knew the consequences of a review in a major national newspaper: pandemonium.

A two-man show like AJ's wouldn't be able to handle a crowd of such mob-like proportions.

All said and done, I was ecstatic when Khan sent me this message: "God bless you. You care for us."

Ah, food for my stomach, heart and soul :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Neophyte Writer - Oct-Dec 2009 Quill

Pei Ling oh Pei Ling,

Beloved friend/much adored little sister/exceptional writer, thanks for reminding me about this article.

That's The Way the Cookie Crumbles, my now-defunct story-driven column in Quill (replaced with the more pragmatic Survival Tricks for the Freelance Writer) chronicled valuable lessons that may not be that obvious to wet-behind-the-ears freelance writers like myself.

Like this one dispensed by a Malaysian icon at an MPH event in 2006.

While purists ("What, how dare you equate writing to selling?") may balk, it still ranks as the best piece of advice (i.e. practical as opposed to hopelessly idealistic and not applicable to real life) I've ever received about freelance writing.

Reading this again, I detect decidedly Cinderella-esque overtones hehe.

Would you believe it - until now, I have not plucked up the nerve to tell him about this article?

To Eric Forbes and May Lee, thanks a million for the opportunity to write for Quill!


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