The slowness of walking. And it feels good.

on walking, the Camino de Santiago, a new drawing of a poem, a mini true story

HopeMail Issue #114 | HopeMail is a newsletter about life lessons I’ve learnt or reflected upon recently. Plus my drawing, the occasional comic and poem. If a friend shared this with you, and you'd like to subscribe, c'mon in.

Hi there,

Hope it’s well where you are. Malaysia went into another lockdown. This time around, only essential services are allowed to operate. But, thank God, my concern of being cooped up at home and not allowed to walk around my neighbourhood didn’t happen. Being able to get out from the house, to feel the outside air on my skin, even if it’s sometimes humid, sticky, tropical weather air, is something I crave at the end of my day’s work.

My husband and I are still not sure if cycling individually is allowed as the SOPs didn’t mention it clearly. As we don’t wanna spend our energy explaining to the cops, we bid a temporary goodbye to our bikes. And we walk. I’ll take that, just being able to walk and move, thank you very much. In fact, I’ve been craving long walks lately. And with how slow this mode of transportation is, long walks are easily doable. Looping around my neighbourhood can take an hour or two if I want to.

I don’t walk to count my steps, I don’t walk for steady-state cardio, I don’t power walk, I have no goals to achieve. Measure this. Achieve that. Go faster. Do more.—because, don’t we have enough of that in our life? 

I can’t see how the culture of bigger, faster, more, contributes to my wellbeing as a person. So—maybe—walking, is one of my ways of walking away from the tide of (ab)normalcy. Walking is where everything slows down. I can’t hurry if I want to. When we stop hurrying—we see.

Look up to the sky, enjoy the vastness, take in a couple of deep breaths, say goodbye to the day’s stress and deadlines; say hello to the big and small trees with different shapes leaves, notice the curves of the branches, the trees’ gnarly roots; listen to the birds singing; smile to the neighbours as we walk past each other, though physically distanced, we can acknowledge each other’s presence. 

I suppose for me, walking is one of the good things that came out of the pandemic. It falls nicely into my slowing down (or rather, keeping in pace); less is more life. How about you, did you notice any changes in your lifestyle or in your view of life?

Speaking of walking, I remembered this route called Camino Portuguese or The Portuguese Way. A group of us were on a self-guided cycling tour in Portugal. We cycled from Porto to Lisbon; stopping along the way to rest for a night or two, of course. The scenery and atmosphere were amazing as we cycled on long boardwalks along the majestic looking Atlantic Ocean, and on the quiet inner roads, passing by rows after rows of trees. 

Photo of a curving boardwalk, surrounded by autumn grass, the atmosphere is misty and dreamy. Three cyclists are far away in the background, visible only by their brightly coloured rain jacket: red, orange, blue.
Rain jackets on! Though it rained non-stop throughout our 40 km-ish cycle from Porto to Ovar, it was still—the best cycling experience in my life, yet! The entire autumn atmosphere, with the rain giving a misty blanket around us, made magical hours of cycling memory for me. Photo taken by my lovely friend, Anne Cheong.

We saw some people with backpacks and walking sticks, walking along the road. Curious, we slowed down enough for a brief chat, and found out they were on a walk from Porto to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, the far north-west of Spain, how fascinating! This Camino Portuguese route is one of the many different routes of the network called Camino de Santiago (or Way of St. James), but all routes will lead to Santiago de Compostela. Camino de Santiago is an ancient pilgrimage route that possibly started in the 9th century. It's now a UNESCO heritage site and attracts thousands of people around the world who wants to have this unique experience.

In Portugal, there are two main routes to walk or cycle: the Camino Portuguese Central or the Camino Portuguese Coastal. If the latter, the full walking route from Porto to Santiago de Compostela will take approximately 265km or 14 days depending on how often and how long you stop. We didn’t realise our boardwalk cycle was on the same route. Maybe one day, God willing, we’ll get to walk or cycle the full Camino Portuguese Coastal!

And oh, I found this interesting book as I was searching for information about Camino de Santiago.

📚 I'm Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago by Hape Kerkeling.

You can check out the book on Amazon and Book Depository.

What I’m drawing

Trying something new with a section in the newsletter where I’ll share what I’m drawing (or writing). This is the latest one.

Some of you might remember my poem, Find Joy In Ordinary Things. Here’s the story behind the poem: this poem was written at one of the lowest points of my life. It was through the pain, I learnt to take notice and to appreciate the simple little things in life. This attitude has made my daily life so much richer.

I recently decided to illustrate the poem using line drawing. Using a combination of different shading techniques: hatching, cross hatching, scribbling, and cross contour, to produce a 3D effect; especially of the hand and the cup.

A photo of the mock-up of the artwork, Find Joy In Ordinary Things Illustrated Poem in a muted gold, weaved frame, beside it is a light beige coloured vase with dried flowers in autumn colours of golden yellow, light brown, and cream.
Find Joy In Ordinary Things Illustrated Poem | You can view the artwork where it’s available for purchase on Saatchi Art, a leading online art gallery where you can buy art from established or new artists around the world.

Video reel: work in progress of the illustrated poem

A post shared by @melinda_yeoh

I'll share new artwork I'm doing as they come along!

Before we part…

Here’s a mini true story from my walk in a local park (before the lockdown).

A young father cycled past her. Seated behind him on a child bike seat was his little son. Three years old or so? Both father and son were smiling contentedly. The kid, as with all kids his age, was asking questions, and the father, answering. It was at a park, quiet enough for her to hear a few lines of their conversation when the father cycled past; the conversation getting softer and softer as they went further ahead. “Look at that bird. It’s got black and white colours. It’s called a magpie,” the father pointed out to his son. The lady smiled at the endearing scene of a father spending time with his kid—willing to be engaged and to be present. “I think they’re gonna be alright,” she thought to herself as she imagined the father raising his son with love.

Happy Father’s Day to those who are celebrating!

That’s all, folks. See ya.


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Hello, I’m Melinda. Writer, artist, dreamer, lover of life and beautiful things. HopeMail is a newsletter with essays, poems and drawings of what I’m up to, and where I derive life lessons from my daily living. Candid and reflective. Kinda like those honest conversations with friends. C’mon in.

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