Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Supergirl


Being quite a comics geek myself, I've always thought that pretty girls in sexy and cool outfits who can pack a mighty punch like Supergirl only exists in the fantasy world. Well, that's till I read about Suzanne Lee while on the flight in The Sun today.
Suzanne Lee is a roving free spirit. In her 21 years she's been a mechanic, a model, a PR agent and now a travelling photographer.... it doesn't seem possible that she's been to 16 countries, served as a team mechanic for Aarows Racing Team, stood in as stuntwoman for Mendam Berahi in Bombay Dramas, hiked through Pakistan's Thar Desert.
You might want to ask, what has this got to do with an education blog? Has Tony's repressed teenage angst been suddenly unleashed? (Well, maybe – the repressed bit. :)) But more excitingly, is how Suzanne has totally took her life by the scruff of her neck and seized the day. Carpe Diem, they say.

Suzanne started off modelling at sweet sixteen (by accident). But her experience at modelling led to a flair and passion for photography with all the big cameras and disproportionately gigantic lenses. She bought her first SLR camera from the proceeds of a beer shoot and off she went on a four months backpacking tour of Europe. And how does she afford all these travelling?

“I travel on a budget. You need a great deal of emotional and mental control to travel alone for long periods of time. Emotional beause you're on your own and you have to be in control of the situation at all times. Mental control comes into play in expenditure, no matter how much you love a souvenir, a budget is a budget.

I also do freelance jobs along the way. When I was in Europe for example, I was an unofficial photographer for the Sauber-Petronas F1 Racing Team.... Now I travel on sponsorship. It's an exchange of services – I take photos and they sponsor me the trip,” she said with a happy grin.
What about her education?

My personal take? With a life as full as hers, formal education can wait. Suzanne was enrolled into a degree for photography programme at a local college but that has since been put in “indefinite hiatus” for she is unsurprisingly learning much much more out there.

While my life has not been without its excitements and adventure, I read with a tinge of regret that the path Suzanne has taken is now beyond me (not unless I decide to ditch my wife and daughter :)). This would have been something which I would have been extremely interested to do, but of course, there are just too many things to do in this short life of ours.

As reported by the Sun, for Suzanne, the turning point in her life came when she became aware of a big, big world out there accompanied by an “undeniable attack of wonderlust”. And she quoted St Augustine, “the world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”

Yes, its alternative education at its best. I'm certain that there are others like her around, but Suzanne certainly sets a perfect role model for our young ones.

27 comments:

Tiara said...

Thank you for her! Great to see another local example of how education can come in so many forms.

Anonymous said...

What a breath of fresh air. And a really 'feelgood' story. Just curious though.. Tony, would you allow your daughter the same path?

Anonymous said...

Dear Tony,

You are a sad little geek indeed! OK, now that you have had your thrill for the day, why don't you go back home and watch your Star Trek Voyager collection again. I am sure this girl has wheted your appetite for a dose of Seven of Nine! You crack me up dude!

lee wee tak said...

It is this sort of out of this world type that get me scratching my head on the following:-

1) Is she from a rich, privillage family?

2) Did she have to go through the formal UPSR, SRP, SPM or STPM exams routes that kill off creativity and the wonder years of the Malaysian young hopefuls?

3)How did a young upstart like her get the money to pay for all those travelling etc?

4) How does she pay all her bills? Put away enough money for old age?

5) How she get those opportunities in life than normal people like me can't even dream about?

6) Does she have any unappealing habits? (She can't be prefect, right?)

Sour grape? I can't even imagine her life is about, let alone be envious or jealous!

Tony P said...

Hey Anon 01:14:56 PM

I will be the most proud father should my daugther turns out like Suzanne. As an after thought to the post, I was actually thinking about updating it to include having Suzanne as a "role-model" for her. :) Xin Ying will get to chart her own future though - no pressure there :)

And Anon 01:47:45 PM, I not a Trekkie fan-lah. More like Transformers and G-Force kinda guy :)

Tony P

Anonymous said...

Well, what would be your feeling if you see your daughter like this

Well you may say, it's art. What about those in the playboy's magazine, they are arts too. I'd say the entertainment industries is socially complex... for me it will be ideal if she has not been a model.

Anonymous said...

her achievements are impressive! definitely not everyones' cup of tea.

Anonymous said...

Jesus!
Nothing special about her lar! If you are at that young age and wling to do 'gila gila' stuff why not?
She is young and have no responsibilities that is associated with having a family to take care or support....
I bet you if she is old and married, she would be just like anyone of us..
I cant comment more on her 'freedom' and attitude towards life...guess you have to read my mind

hehe1

Anonymous said...

That's the beauty of being young. You are not tied down by anything. You are a free spirit to roam. Some of you guys did point out about her travelling expenses, which I am kind of curious about to. In her blog she said she budget her expenses. But, being a frequent traveller myself, I really doubt it considering the places she went. Check out her blog and you will know what I mean. She went to many places than many people would hope to go in a lifetime or two. If she claimed that she work freelance or part time to cover it, I still doubt it.
It would be nice if anyone of you can tell how she solved this problem. I am curious myself.
Pur.Boy

Anonymous said...

By the way G-force, Transformers rule, hahahah. The good o-80's.
Dont forget Voltron too.
Pur.Boy

Anonymous said...

if there's will there's ways

there's no free lunch in this world

i'm not curious about the places she's been to 'coz i do have friend's in the travel industries and she had been a travel guide.

as a travel guide, a friend of mine do travel to several countries in a month. she covers europe, africa and asia. just imagine how many countries they would have landed in a year. i'm not supprise.

and please don't be alarmed how much they can make just from tips in trips especially to europe. my friends' record was Rm4x,xxx just for tips for a group tour to europe, a group of 50+ people. those people who go for such trips are rich... and tips like rm500 is normal. some nice generous people will tip rm1000, especially if your service is really good, people will feel worth it. also don't be supprise looks has got nothing to do with it... this friend of mine is not pretty but she can make the customer feel like they're in paradise!

what about commision? not counted yet.

I'm not saying every travel guide can earn that much but if there's such person she has to be gifted. some people said she has the luck, but i think she has something that other people doesn't have.

not everytime also RM4x,xxx-lah, but sometimes if that group has many generous people you do get that much.

so, I bet her travel expenses comes from her own hard efforts.

hope you guys don't envy-lah because like some chinese saying "I see you good, you see me good"

and i know in the travel industries, they do do "wild things" outside, i have friends in the line. and they enjoy it. they are happy. especially when you are as pretty as Suzanne, people will normally target such victim, unless you're smart and don't get caught in the game. then you're safe from crossing the lines. she once said, "respect yourself and your own body and you'll never cross the lines"

Anonymous said...

Errr, hello travel guide? Of course you travel more than people. That is part of your job. For her, she is a photographer. You are comparing apple and orange here.
I would probably guess she is funded, since her work require her take shots. But that is just a guess.

Suzanne Lee said...

Hi there. I would first like to thank Tony and Tiara and the others for their comments on my choices that i have made in my life. as for the other criticisms not so much in favor of my decisions, i hope that you are happy with the way you're living life. We are all made diferently and we have all led different paths to land where we are now in our lives and it is not how many years you've been alive, but how many lessons you've learnt, i believe.. and to learn some lessons, you have to make choices.. and although the choices may have been made with good intentions at heart, not all choices will be nodded at by all and again, not all choices will be the best for oneself .. but then again.. it's a lesson learnt.

a minute ago, i wrote a nice note in answer for all the queries i read above but some error occured with internet exzplorer, which caused me to lose the whole reply.. but picking it all up again as i go along, here is another reply.."from the horses' mouth", as you may say:

1) Is she from a rich, privillage family?

Definitely not! up to date, we still live in a small flat in puchong's old part but we're a happy family. i started to work at 14
Hi there. I’m writing from Phuket Thailand.. on a one month trip around south Thailand to etch a good memory of how I spent my birthday in 2006. I have Not read or heard anything about the article that was written about me in the Sun. all I know is that it’s been published and I hope it’s good and I hope the facts are right. I will be back in May and that’s too late to do anything if things aren’t written right.. but I trust in Emily (writer) to write everything as she understands best. :)

I would first like to thank Tony and Tiara and the others for their comments on my choices that i have made in my life. as for the other critics not so much in favor of my decisions, i hope that you are happy with the way you're living life. We are all made differently and we have all led different paths to land where we are now in our lives, and it is not how many years you've been alive, but how many lessons you've learnt, i believe..! to learn some lessons, you have to make choices.. and although the choices may have been made with good intentions at heart, not all choices will be nodded at by all and again, not all choices will be the best for oneself .. but then again.. it's a lesson learnt.

a minute ago, I wrote a very sincere and lone note in answer for all the queries i read above but some error occurred with internet explorer, which caused me to lose the whole reply.. but picking it all up again as i go along, here is another reply.."from the horses' mouth", as you may say:

1) Is she from a rich, privillage family?

Definitely not! up to date, we still live in a small flat in puchong's old part but we're a happy family. i started to work at 14yo in a Chinese herb/grocery shop carrying 20kg rice sacks in and out of the shop everyday plus packing and labeling medicine. Rich? Obviously not.. but privileged, I would say.. Because of the way my parents have chosen to bring me up – independently.

2) Did she have to go through the formal UPSR, SRP, SPM or STPM exams routes that kill off creativity and the wonder years of the Malaysian young hopefuls?

Yes, I went through a pretty normal schooling life. Primary in Methodist primary school pj and secondary in assunta school pj. I graduated SPM with a grade one but what really kept me sane and individualistic is the extra-curricular activities and other self-searching activities I do after schooling hours. I did 9 types of self-defense art and a whole lot of track and field sports plus singing, dancing, disc jockeying, literature/critical thinking articles/poetry writing and socializing. I read the encyclopedia, the dictionary, many factual books and the newspaper. That was the only way I could’ve satisfied my inquisitions to the vast world ahead at the time.. until now, when I actually get to see, feel, smell and touch the actual places I’ve read about. It’s a dream come true.. a dream I’ve been trying to make real.

3)How did a young upstart like her get the money to pay for all those travelling etc?

Work, Save, plan… all for a cause I believe in.
I once held 4 jobs at a time. Night: customer management; day: marketing executive; weekend and off days from other jobs: gym front desk; and some weekends: mechanic for go-karts. At that time, from hard work to earn commission and the hours I put into my jobs (approx 16hrs a day, 7 days a week) I earned up to 9thousand a month from 4 payrolls.
I refrained from material things and I had no time to spend the money. I opted not to get a car although I traveled to and from jobs which were pretty far apart. I opted not to rent a room although independence and freedom from family tugged at my heart. I opted not to spend the money because I believed in alternative lifestyles..

And when I’m on the road, I apply the same formula: Work, Save, Plan. I work whenever I can, part time, full time, or freelance. I save as much as I can, often making use of a good hospitality exchange club that I joined whereby we host genuine budget travelers wherever we meet. I save on accommodation that way.. and most of the time, I save on everything else too because i make good friends of my hosts and hence I get good tips on the best (and cheapest) non-tourist routes.

4) How does she pay all her bills? Put away enough money for old age?

I’ve saved a lot when I was working for almost 3 years.. I really did… and as I go along now, I’m not exactly spending the saved money. I’m 22 years old… as I look back, I have no regrets about the choices I have made and the path that I have walked to arrive at where I am and what I’m doing today… my life is what I want it to be and although this is satisfying, this is not my final destination. There are many pages left to be filled and as long as I make my decisions with a sound mind and a pure heart, I will not regret them in the future and I will not have to worry so much about my dying years. Bills? I chose to have only the phone bill and insurance to pay for. The world is my home and my legs are my transportation.


5) How she get those opportunities in life than normal people like me can't even dream about?

Opportunities present themselves to everyone in their everyday lives. It’s a matter of whether they seize it.. like when rock climbing or base jumping… it’s the letting go of the comfort-zone and the security that hold you back from the thrill. It’s making the choices that will change your life.. and your family’s. it’s about chasing a lifestyle that you desire. Some people desire power and monetary riches. Others desire freedom and constant exposure to the rest of the world.

6) Does she have any unappealing habits? (She can't be prefect, right?)

I guess if we meet you might find some.. of course, no one is perfect… if you can actually picture and list down all the qualities of “perfect”. But I can tell you that I’m perfectly frank, straight-forward and most of all, I’m perfectly the person I want to be.. because I made the choices that make me who I am.. as for yourself and everyone else.

With this, I hope that I’ve answered some of your questions and I hope that all you good people out here will take some time out of everyday to think about how happy you are and if you have some imperfections about your life, I sincerely hope that you will be able to iron it out in a jiffy! Peace to all and have a great journey through life!

-Suzanne Lee
Malaysia, KL

Lee Wee Tak said...

Dear Suzanne,

Thank you for your reply. I felt goose bumps on my backside and a lump in my throat as I can only draw the following conclusion:

1) You are an energetic, smart and privillage person whose short life's experience may have exceeded my achievement in my entire life time. Keep it up, god knows if you will have a life like Forrest Gump's.

2) I will look for the special place in Puchong - where there must be 52 hours in a day!

3) You are the prettiest female who ever spoke/wrote to me. Normally the pretty ones are beyond my reach and mrs lee keep me firmly in place, anyway.

I rest my case. I'll look for some oversea tour on the cheap in the newspapers.

Anonymous said...

Dear Suzanne,

Wow! 4 jobs at one time! 7 days a week! And grade one for SPM! I can't even imagine being you! You are really SUPER!

Best regards

Anonymous83 said...

This is a most interesting string of comments.

A beautiful girl chose an unconventional path but some members of the public casually assumed the worst circumstances and chose to disparage her.

Does everyone think life is so unfair? where does this preconception come from?

Laksa said...

nice story - what a remarkable young woman.

Anonymous said...

"I'll look for some oversea tour on the cheap in the newspapers."

Good, let me know if you found anything interesting in whichever newspaper if possible. Help saves money. I usually search online instead.


Pur.Boy

lee wee tak said...

Hi anonynous,

yep pur boy me am.

On line is one way. I read those sin chews and china press for bargains.....

Anonymous said...

I read this one on The Sun while I was looking for info on Canon EOS 20D. I was in awe. She's everything I wanted to be when I was a kid(minus the whole modelling stint). Traveling and photography. I'm already 21 and is nowhere close to anything she's done and I have absolutely zero achievements. Wow. Ultimate respect.

Ashness

Anonymous said...

I have read the article in the SUN as well as her write up on her website (and her reply here), looked at her various photos, and also looked up the web reference of her modelling photos. I wonder if sometimes too much focus is placed on her modelling pictures and career. She has taken many more photos of other things of interest and there are many more photos of that than just of her as a model.

My impression. I ENVY her and I say good for her. She is living life while perhaps most of us (me included) merely exist in life. I admire her personality, her resilence, her attitude, her belief in herself (all this based on what I have read only). I would be most proud if I had a daughter like her (even with her modelling career). I have no doubts that she is not perfect and neither are any of us and I hope she will continue living her life, believing in herself, and inspiring others to think about living life and not getting pieces of paper in universities (which is what this blog is about, right - what education really is about)

Anonymous said...

Suzanne, I actually...

respect your choice.

admire your endurance.

Sorry I commented about your modelling career earlier, actually not that bad. thought I should've been a bit open minded.

You are a wonderful woman.

daniel_lai said...

Hi Suzzanne,

daniel_nikon here from Photokaki... so many comments here i've read, most good, some bad(wht's in their mind huh?), but then, 1 more thing... why ain't PK'ers leave a comment here, where are they?!! lolz... well... looking at ur pic of u holding the 400mm lens(if im not mistaken) & the EOS 1D series body really made u such a supergirl to me, i can't even hold a 70mm-200mm lens for long!! You did so fantastic in modelling & in photography, such a gifted person in the photographic world. As a photographer myself is dying to have you as a mentor... i hope to learn more from you(if you dun mind i am a Nikon user) & hoping to meet you in PK tt someday... ciaoz

daniel_lai

Anonymous said...

You got to admit it..she is very photogenic and pretty....

kahani said...

Hi all, Emily Tan from theSun here. I had the privilege of interviewing and hanging out with Suzanne.

She is a privilege and great personality. Vibrant, colourful, intelligent and a free-spirit she's a breath of fresh air in a society drowning in security.

For those who envy her, don't. She worked for and MADE her opportunities. Most of us have chances wander across our path that lead to a life filled with adventure and travel, but we turn it down because we're afraid.

Many Malaysians want to go to uni, get through as fast as they can, get a job, get married, get settled. If that's what you want, go for it. But if you've always wanted to travel, then join a backpacking club, a tour agency, there are always ways of achieving what you want - you just have to be willing to grab it.

In the course of my job I've met a lady who takes a month off her high-powered job as a Snr Mgr and Backpacks alone on a next-to-nothing budget through Nepal, Thailand, Mongolia, Indonesia and India. This year, she plans to give Myanmar a go.

And then I've met people who, on hearing that the scholarship I've received is to study and travel in three European countries ask me, "Why would you want that? Wasting time and so maafaan."

You are what you decide to be. If you don't like what you've become, change.

Ben said...

I agree with Kahani -- live your life a little, please.

Do what YOU want and not what your family dictates. Its all in the name of what makes YOU happy.

I'm a Malaysian currently living in the US -- I lived in many cities before coming to Boston. I don't intend to stay here for too long -- theres the whole world to see.

Why limit your beliefs; step out of your box once in awhile. Life is short as many of you have mentioned -- you only live once, so you might as well make the best out of it.

ahwenBABY said...

wah.. cool... accidently came to this page when i was searching for uni info... but saw this post, kinda weird...

suzanne lee... saw her web few months ago in veecee's link.. dont know her but, she's same sage as me.. she own everything.. but i own nothing...

respect her~