the BIGGER picture


Just a glimspe. Susan's Perspective.

#Travel and #Food journalist @SusanLuckyWong finally resurrects her blog The Bigger Picture

Dear Internet,

Today marks a very special day. A day worth remembering. A day worth sharing…with you.

I have finally realized that my prolonged hiatus from blogging has been a disservice to myself, my soul. I had a good thing going here. So many of you have messaged me with your encouraging comments despite my silence.

I will be the first to admit that I let “work” consume me and clearly, I’ve lost sight of my own equilibrium. Writing is cathartic, selfish – or what I know it as “Me Time” – and is an important ingredient to my inner balance. I hope it’s not too late to kick-start this blog again because aside from the many stories I’ve catalogued in my head, waiting to be shared with you; this whole blogging process will likely be more enjoyable for me than it will be for you.

Forgive me in advance if I offend anyone in any of my posts – believe me, that was never the intention. Inspired by the people I meet and the places I travel to, The Bigger Picture is a place where I share my thoughts and experiences, uncensored. This blog documents my personal journey of hopefully one day being able to see “The Bigger Picture” in every moment and everything I do.

Looking forward to reconnecting with you again!

Happy reading.


Happy reading.


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Kings of the Savanna: Warring lions

lion territory wars photographed by Susan Wong 2012 main roaring

Three visits in eight months, surely I must be a great fan of the Maasai Mara. Well, what’s not there to be a fan about? Every time you’re in the Maasai Mara, each experience is as uniquely different as the last.

From watching the dramatic annual Wildebeest Migration to witnessing the first steps of a baby hippo to seeing blood-stained hyenas eagerly ripping off flesh from a carcass to driving through river rapids and even observing the haunting expansive skies literally opening up, just to name a few.

My most recent visit was no different. Uniquely memorable and majestic.

lion territory wars photographed by Susan Wong 2012 mature male in grass

Caught in a Lions’ turf war

The warm and golden afternoon sun is setting and the towering afternoon clouds are rolling out. As we start our short drive back to our lodge in the Greater Mara Region, our smart custom Defender stumbled upon a pride of lions marching through the tall grass, probably heading to find a spot to conserve their energy in preparation for a hunt at night.

Just centimetres away from our vehicle, a muscular lioness marched confidently in the middle of the group, with two of her cubs leading and her younger ones trailing. Not too far ahead were two males striding ahead into the sunset. The pride stopped abruptly just steps away to pause for a much-needed water break. The loud gulping sounds from the lioness and cubs resonated in the still air like music.

Suddenly, a monstrously loud roar broke the silence. The pride of lions and even us, froze in fear. Somewhere out in the plains, close by, camouflaged by the tall swaying grass, was a formidable lion sending out a warning.

There were three fully matured male lions, known to the local community as the ones whom have attacked and feasted on hippos, slowly marched confidently out of the grass into the open, where their presence was clearly visible.

The first one roared, then another, and finally a third, forming a raw chorus of harmonic repetitive bellows. Clearly, the first pride had marched into someone else’s territory, and we were stuck in the middle.

“You’re really lucky. Though bloody and often sad, we might just see a scene of warring prides,” warned Dickson, our seasoned Maasai guide.

The standoff continued between the prides, and we remained parked where we had stopped. The bellows from the large trio of lions continued and the other pride led by two young male lions stood their ground. Who was going to make the move first?

Finally, the largest of the trio of dominant males started to march towards the other pride. One stride after another, full of confidence and sheer muscle – even our hands began to sweat in anticipation.

The younger lions almost instantly turned around, and as a result guided the rest of their pride in the opposite direction. The trio of mature males continued to stand there, watch and eventually lay down to conserve their energy, but their presence and bellows continued to resonate in the air.

I suppose it was a bit of an anticlimax – no paw-on-paw contact. But, this is probably the best scenario for both prides. In the wild, there is often more to lose than to gain. A rare scene, fighting amongst wild animals thankfully only happens when it’s out of necessity for survival.

Moral of the story: Pick your battles wisely.

PHOTOBLOG: Photo Credits Susan Wong 2012 © All rights reserved

lion territory wars photographed by Susan Wong 2012 pride marching

lion territory wars photographed by Susan Wong 2012 pride marching 2

lion territory wars photographed by Susan Wong 2012 mature males backup

lion territory wars photographed by Susan Wong 2012 mature males backup 4

Filed under: Africa, Kenya, Life, Photography, Thoughts, Travel, , , , , ,

Prepare for the worst and expect the best

When I struggle with the man in my life, a girlfriend of mine has always poignantly reminded me, “prepare for the worst and expect the best.” It’s a good motto to live life by, right? If you’re always prepared for the worst then you’ll never be blindsided and guarding your heart is the best way to avoid heartbreak, right? But, when does ‘preparing for the worst’ get in the way of believing in the full organic potential of a relationship and more so, of a person?

How many times have you prepared for the worst and expected the best, but the best just never happened? Since when have we become so pessimistic about relationships? Does being pessimistic mean we’re settling? Shouldn’t being with the ‘one,’ that’s if you believe in that stuff, always be the best thing that has ever happened to you? Hmm, perhaps that’s the answer right there – he’s just not the ‘one.’ Maybe?

In the recent article “Why do men go MIA?” it’s obvious that there are some real greasy tools out there that are simply out to take advantage of a good situation – you. And, there are those men out there that are simply just thoughtless, and for a lack of a better word, fools.

Now, if you’re lucky enough to be in a relationship with a thoughtless fool, obviously you’ve seen past his flaws, embraced them and look forward to fighting for the amazing potential that you believe both of you have as an item.

Photo Credits: Susan Wong © All rights reserved.

He loves like Shakespeare’s Romeo, cherishes family like your father, soft like a teddy bear but tough like a Trojan, ambitious, charming, great partner in bed, and listens well when he has time. Yes, when, he has time.

Did I say he was ambitious and extremely successful? The man receives 200 calls a day, and each call actually matters. He makes time for you, comes to Town even if it’s out of the way to have lunch with you, he always cares; most importantly, even if it’s only for a short 5 minute meeting that you’ve stolen from his day, nothing else matters during those precious minutes. The angels sing.

At the same time, after a year of dating, you’ve accepted a lot of flaws and vowed to work with them, such as: he ends calls abruptly because he has to take an incoming business call, forgets to call you back after he says he will, postpones your meet-ups because an important business meeting has come up…you get the drift? Business reigns supreme.

No, this man is not cheating on you. He is not tired of you. Contrary, he wants to eventually marry you. But, after a year of feeling neglected and tired of “preparing for the worst and expecting the best” every single time you’re suppose to spend some time with this man, you’re spent. Tired. Oh, so tired.

“Preparing for the worst and expecting the best” has allowed you to last this long, but honestly, you’re exhausted from being a pessimist. Every time your man suggests something, you say yes, but in your heart, you know he’ll be too busy to follow through.

I thank my girlfriend for always reminding me of what’s worked for her, but for myself, I think I’ll keep to what’s worked for me, “trusting someone until they give you a reason not to.”

I always give people a benefit of a doubt. And, as many friends have tried to educate me, perhaps I shouldn’t since I’m always the one that pains. Then again, what’s so bad about always being the one that seemingly looses out in a relationship and hurting for a while? Pain will pass, you will recover. What you cannot recover is lost time, and seeing that life is so finite, give yourself a pat on the back for trying and not losing that important quality that’s unique to mankind – belief.

Filed under: Photography, Thoughts, , ,

Being single may have a greater purpose!

Today’s guest blogger is an amazing woman that is as out-spoken as one could be!  Thitu Kariba writes with conviction and her recent topic of choice has clearly struck a chord with myself and the millions of singles out there searching for whatever they’re searching for.  Read on to be inspired and enlightened…check out the link to Thitu’s online publication..well worth a visit!


(THITU KARIBA) My best friend and I are the kind of girls you would say the family has given up on when it comes to marriage. They don’t get it, on her part they even suggest that if she won’t get married she could or should at least have a child or two ( out of wedlock). On my part, many feel that I should just get together with my baby daddy, whom I was not even with by the time my son was born 6 years ago. My other options have been to get married to a man even if he is not saved and trust God to save him later. All I hear is compromise, compromise, compromise.

What is it about marriage that people, even Christians are willing to compromise on to enter into? It goes beyond that, every time I go to church they prophesy to the congregation saying they will get married, they drum it in. Everywhere you go marriage seems to have been put on a pedal stool that is almost unhealthy. People idolize the idea of marriage and many for all the wrong reasons. The other day I was chatting with a guy online and I told him I am in no hurry to marry. I told him I am at a point in my life where I am feeling rather selfish and have NO desire to take another person’s cares and needs into consideration. I don’t want to share my bed or share my bathroom with some man at this point in my life. I don’t want some guy all up in my personal space. The other thing is that I took Jesus on as my husband and it’s been so beautiful, it’s hard imagining any other.

My best friend, was met with the most difficult choice God could ask her to make, to give up marriage to be used extensively by God who would be her husband. When she made the choice to give up marriage for him, he stepped in and became her husband, doing all the things a husband would (sex is not a factor here). The Bible clearly states that It is better for one not to be married, however if they cannot sit on their flesh then it is better to marry. God can use you extensively as a single person and fully satisfy you beyond all you can imagine. When you are single you have less commitments and responsibilities and God can do a lot more with you than he can with a married person.

Society, tradition, even the church, never seem to consider that fact that it is actually better not to marry and that God does not require everyone to marry. Marriage is not all there is to life, so relax, do not feel bad about the fact that your younger siblings are all married and you’re not. It could be that God has chosen to use you in a special way and have a special relationship with you. The fact is that not everyone will marry and not everyone has the desire for marriage and that is no sin. Do not just take your folks or even preachers word when they say you will or must marry. Go before God and find out if marriage is in his plan for your life. Some of you need to know that God will ask you never to marry, others God will require you to give up singlehood and marry, but the fact is that marriage is not for everyone and that is ok.
Enter rest!

More from the author HERE

Filed under: Thoughts

Jack Layton’s last letter to Canadians

I hope every fellow Canadian and global citizen has the opportunity to absorb Jack’s final letter. An outstanding piece of literature.  Mr. Layton, your message to us has been heard and will never be forgotten. We will prevail in your memory with diplomacy & dignity.



August 20, 2011

Toronto, Ontario

Dear Friends,

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.

Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

To the members of my party: we’ve done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.

To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.

And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

All my very best,

Jack Layton

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Capital Lifestyle » Enduring 6 days of Mount Kenya 4975 m

Capital Lifestyle » Enduring 6 days of Mount Kenya 4975 m.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Cheryl’s Children’s Home and Learning Centre: Help them fill their bookshelves!



Filed under: Africa, Kenya, Life, Photography, Thoughts, , , ,

RESCUE HOMES: Lessons from Murang’a

New to the country and eager to see and experience as much of Kenya as possible, when I was asked to visit Murang’a and more importantly, Rescue Homes, I jumped at the chance.

Murang’a and its infamous rolling green hills welcomed me with open arms.  Located in Central Province of Kenya, Murang’a is incredibly picturesque with varying altitudes and expansive farmlands including tea plantations.

Completely shielded by an overgrown garden, when our driver pulled up to the gate of the Rescue Homes’ pilot project, I didn’t know what to expect.

I wondered how many young pregnant girls found refuge at this property.  I wondered how they were finding their time in the rural side and completely secluded from city life.  I wondered if they would be willing to speak to a visitor like myself – someone from the media.  I wondered…

When I met the young mothers-to-be, I realized I had nothing to worry about.  Their smiles said it all: full of life and promise.


FETCHING WATER: A new appreciation

Fetching water in Murang’a, Kenya photographed by Susan Wong


During my visit to Rescue Homes, their water supply had unfortunately been disturbed due to nearby road construction.

The house mothers volunteered to go fetch water at the bottom of the property, me being the curious “muzungo” that I was, I followed suit.  I had no idea what a journey I was getting myself into…

Fetching water is hard work!  No joke.

Under the hot midday sun, the three of us grabbed some empty plastic containers and ripped pieces of textile down the steep and slippery hills of the tea plantation.

I was wearing running shoes and the other ladies were wearing frictionless flip-flops.  Now, how did I manage to slip and fall, whilst the other ladies walked on like soldiers is mind-boggling.

I’ll be the first to admit it – slipping and sliding down and then up the hill and then being asked if I needed help by ladies with 100lbs of water on their backs was downright embarrassing.

Be super sure that I’ve found a new appreciation for water!

That day, I vowed to never waste another drop of water again.


Susan Wong is a resident photographer, writer, radio presenter and full-time adventurer at Capital Group Ltd.

Filed under: Africa, Canada, Kenya, Life, Photography, Thoughts, Travel, , , , , ,

Curbside Cuisine: Popcorn in Nairobi, Kenya

Tasty popcorn at Prestige in Nairobi, Kenya by Susan Wong

Photo Credits: Susan Wong

I often shop for my groceries at Prestige, not because the vegetables are fresher or that there’s more parking; but because of a man named Larry who coincidently makes the best popcorn I have ever tasted in my life.

Larry making popcorn at Prestige in Nairobi, Kenya by Susan Wong

Larry Makanzie, 25, is a sharp entrepreneur that has learned to capitalize on hungry shoppers, curious passers-by lured by the aromas of fresh popcorn, and chronic snackers (such as myself).

Formerly known as ‘Fresh Pops’, Makanzie’s popcorn empire is now known as ‘Bando International’.  With no signage or marketing material, I may be one of the first to know what his humble popcorn stand is actually called.  But, at the end of the day, who cares?  Makanzie’s popcorn is the tastiest curbside cuisine I’ve tasted in a long time and makes me look forward to stocking up on my kitchen supplies!

Makanzie has been serving his customers at Prestige for the last 4 years.  A consistent queue of a few hungry snackers makes this popcorn stand one of the most profitable even at 50 ksh per bag.

Partly due to the consistent flow of business and also to his stubborn mission to provide the freshest popcorn to his customers, Makanzie’s popcorn is consistently steaming hot, fluffy and golden.

With diverse flavours to choose from: salt & vinegar, celery salt, mixed chilli spices – just to name a few; Makanzie provides the customer with choices and room for customization.  My favourite is the “Special” with an extra dash of celery salt.

This is definitely the friendliest popcorn stand where not only can you buy the fluffiest flavoured popcorn anywhere, it’s also a spot to catch up on the word on the street or take a breather after shopping.

Whether you’re a popcorn connoisseur or just want to support a worthy young entrepreneur, next time you’re at Prestige, make sure you visit Makanzie for some popcorn!

Queue for popcorn at Prestige in Nairobi, Kenya by Susan Wong

Don’t forget to follow me on TWITTER @SusanLuckyWong (the author)

Filed under: Africa, Canada, Food, Kenya, Life, Photography, Thoughts, Travel, , , , , , , , ,

Guest Post: The Japanese Canadian

In the wake of the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster; I think I speak for most of us when I say my heart goes out to those affected by the ongoing “controlled chaos”.

Today’s guest is not only a dear friend of mine, but also a brother whom I’ve grown up with in Toronto.  The author of ‘The Japanese Canadian’ relocated back to Tokyo a few years back, and yes, he survived the earthquake.  His firsthand accounts of the disaster are chilling and heart-wrenching.  Check out his blog for more real stories from a very real person.

Three weeks… is how long it has been since the earthquake hit the east coast of Japan.  It has been such a learning experience.

  • I learned that Japan could probably withstand the worst earthquakes, and still remain standing.
  • I learned that all the damage which comes to Japan with earthquakes, happens immediately after the earthquake.
  • I learned that Japanese people can still come together as a community, even at times of duress.
  • I learned that I have a hard time being a part of that community.
  • I learned that no matter how many years I am here, I am Japanese-Canadian, and not Japanese.

The damage in Japan has been colossal, with almost 30000 dead or missing.  The television broadcasts censored bits of information regarding the recovery efforts and the people who are coming together to help the community.  Indeed it’s a great scene to know that people are helping each other out, as that positive effort is what the community needs to see.

In Tokyo, I still see the daily affects that the earthquakes has on the city of Tokyo.  The shelves at the grocery store and convenience stores are empty.  In certain stores, soft drinks are still available, but in others, there is no water, no drinks and no alcohol.  The daily things such as toilet paper and tissue paper are still relatively scarce, and there are limitations on many things that people can purchase like water.  The land in certain areas which are man made, have buckled under the pressure of the shaking from the earthquake.  The shortage of power in the Greater Tokyo Area has caused many people and industries to go on stand-by for rolling black outs.  Although the everybody has playing a big role in helping to save energy, with so little lights, every night is a reminder that Tokyo is also on life support, still not fully recovered from the damage.

Then there’s everything else with political parties, elections and nuclear power plants, but honestly, everyone has a different stance on that, and everyone is entitled to their opinion about it.  It’s too serious and too touchy to discuss on here, so I will leave that debate for another time.

I felt strongly, that life is precious, and I shouldn’t plan for things that don’t matter to me.  Every single day of my life, I should be striving to be the best that I can be, and I should strive to make my surroundings feel that I am able to contribute to by being my best.  At the same time, if I am unable to gain understanding for my goals and aspirations, and be told be the image that someone believes me to be, then I have to make a choice of whether I should hold faith in the life that others promise me, or to take control of the path I feel that I should be going on.  There’s many uncertainties, and many will say, “you should be doing this” or “you shouldn’t be doing that”, but the only true answer is “what “I” want to do”.

“What I want to do”, and “where I am now” are the two answers that I will strive to have an answer for.  Everything in between is what I “should” be doing.

Filed under: Canada, Japan, Life, Photography, Quotes, Thoughts, Travel, , , , , , , ,

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