When childcare teacher Lee Meiyi goes on holiday, the only souvenir she looks for is the sand beneath her feet.

How did you start collecting sand?
I love to travel, and whenever one travels, it’s natural to want to bring some souvenirs back. I love beaches. I love water. I love to sit by the water. I did think of collecting water, but I soon discovered that water evaporates.

I like the feeling of letting sand run through my fingers, reminding me that we cannot hold on to things too tightly, that there are some things which are not within our control. I love the sand on my feet, in between my toes, and leaving my footprints in the sand.

A beach is a happy place, with the wind, the smell of the sea, the sound of the waves beating against the shore, the sun and a couple of cold beers to go along with it. Collecting sand is like keeping memories locked up within a space, and those memories will not run away. I can even smell the sea again with just a shake of a bottle.

How do you store your collection?
In small bottles, large bottles, bottles of different shapes and sizes, test-tubes, in those small medical bottles and in pretty mineral water bottles with the names of the places written on the outside. All my bottles of sand are placed on a shelf, and no one is allowed to touch them, except for me!

How big is your collection?
I have sand from Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the US, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, New Zealand, Vietnam, India, Dubai and Europe. I have around 45 bottles.

What lengths have you gone to for your sand?
I went to collect sand in Melbourne during the winter season (i.e. June) and I almost got my butt frozen. I ran all the way out to the beach, packed some sand in a small bag, managed to pose for a picture (smiling happily on the outside but freezing terribly on the inside) and ran all the way back into a toilet to warm my hands.

We suss out some of the best beaches in the region.

Clean up the beach!


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