I love looking at old travel pictures. Besides bringing back so many wonderful memories, they give me the reassurance that I have indeed grown up over the past few years, albeit very slightly.
My visit to the Statue of Liberty was testimony of this. Since the conversation about New York City has come up a few times recently, I decided to look through pictures from my very first visit to New York and the United States back in 2009. And boy, I know people have often called me childish, but if they had seen how I behaved back then, they would probably think I am a proper mature adult now.
The visit started normally enough. We made our way from Wall Street to Battery Park Ferry Terminal rather uneventfully, except for some cheeky stranger who deliberately told us to take the wrong Subway line and me pretending that the clouds were speech bubbles.
And off we went to Liberty Island, leaving Manhattan behind us.
As much as I like travelling and will go the distance (literally) to be somewhere I want to see, there is one pet peeve about it that has never quite grown on me: visa application.
To me, the trouble and the money spent seem to serve as a rite of passage to see how much you really want to visit the country. Unfortunately, being an Indonesian who aspires to see as much as the world as possible, this is something that I have to live with unless my dear homeland ever allows for dual citizenship. It is doubly annoying when everyone around you in Singapore never seemed to have to apply for any visas – they can just buy a ticket and hop onto a plane to virtually any countries they wish.
I’m ranting so much clearly because I am in the midst of applying for another visa. In anticipation of my BIG trip in July, I would need to whip myself up a UK visa before the end of next month. Even though this is the fourth UK visa that I’m applying over the past four years, I still am nowhere good at it. Partly because the amount of information they requested is ridiculous, and partly because life would be so much easier if I had had the sense to just retain a copy of my latest application form as reference. Which I obviously had not.
So here I am, flipping through my passport to jot down the list of countries that I have visited over the past ten years. TEN years. Good thing they limited the entries to 10. Otherwise I would spend a whole day just flipping through my passport till the pages tear and still I would not be able to complete it properly.
As I went through each entry, I realised over the years I have collected quite a considerable number of visas. For the benefit of those who almost never have to go through the pain of applying for visas (no bitterness here), here are how visas of different countries look like.
For a start, the Chinese visa – one that most people who have been to China would have seen.
Yesterday felt like a day of second chances. When my brother announced a few months ago that his laptop got stolen along with his camera SD card which contained pictures from my family’s Europe trip last summer, I was pretty bummed. I spent weeks after that trying to get over it and trying not to think of what pictures in there that I would never see again. Of course, the more I tried, the more I would remember what were in there.
So when my brother told me yesterday that apparently his SD card had not been lost with his computer, I was thrilled beyond words. After an unbelievably long week for so many different reasons, my spirit was considerably lifted up.
I have then decided to take the initiative to back up all these photos into a few different places because really, how often do you get second chances?
Well as it turned out, you may get second chances twice in a day! Just a few hours before this happy discovery, my friend managed to get us tickets to Taylor Swift’s Red Tour in Singapore – a concert that had been sold out the first day the tickets were on sale and because we did not sit and wait in front of our computer to purchase them, we did not get our hands on them. However, since her sold out concert in Bangkok is cancelled due to the political situation there, the organiser had decided to hold another one in Singapore and voila! the tickets were miraculously available again. We snatched them up in no time and I am going to see Taylor Swift live in Singapore on 9th of June!!!
Anyway, I have digressed. What I really want to show you through this post are some photos from my brother’s camera that I’m glad could see the daylight again.
So let’s start with my photo looking naturally lost at Copenhagen Central Station. I guess this is how I look most of the time, with my close-to-nonexistent sense of direction.
I’m having a slight sore throat, most possibly because of my rather unhealthy lifestyle over the weekend. What made it worse was the lack of fruits in my fridge that I can just pop to my mouth to soothe the throat, or more importantly, to soothe myself psychologically that I have eaten healthy today.
So since I can’t get my fruits instantly, I shall do the closest thing that can get me to them – writing about them. And no, I’m not going to list down the health benefits of different types of fruits, but rather, I will transport myself back to March last year when I chanced upon the most copious mountain of fruits that I have seen in my life: at Yau Ma Tei Fruits Market in Hong Kong.
As always, the best things during travel are the ones that you stumble upon accidentally. We certainly did not plan to visit this fruit market, not at 2 am in the morning at least. What we were doing before that was definitely not of people who were sophisticated enough to appreciate how fruits came about to our table every morning.
For me, as long as the unexpected situations do not manifest themselves in the form of cockroaches, flying prawns (there really are such insects, I swear), lightning or someone tickling me from the back, I generally remain calm and composed.
Until the next day, when the reality of the situations start sinking in – I spent pretty much the whole day thinking of the events that happened over last weekend and playing every scene in my head. I think this is what psychologists would have analysed as a case of delayed shock (or in layman’s terms: v e r y s l o w ).
Before you jump into conclusions, nothing disastrously bad happened to me nor someone I know personally. But one thing was for sure: it was a very bizarre weekend.
I wrote in my previous post that I was going to have a weekend trip to KL for Future Music Festival Asia 2014. It was meant to be straightforward – reach KL early in the afternoon, get changed, head to the festival and take a bus ride back to Singapore the next day.
But of course nothing in travelling is ever that straightforward.
We reached KL two hours later than expected due to the traffic, and the moment I had access to WiFi from our hostel, I was greeted by a text from a friend informing me that the festival had been cancelled.
Cancelled. The festival we took a 5-hour bus journey for. The festival where Pharrell Williams was supposed to play! Poof. No more.
In our disbelief, we searched the net for more news and found a few articles confirming our news and when the official website finally released some sort of confirmation, we knew that it was time for Plan B. Except that we did not have a plan B, so we had to come up with something on the spot.
So I think it is of utmost importance that I write a guide of what you can do, should you find yourself stranded in Kuala Lumpur for 23 hours because the festival you came all the way for was cancelled at the last minute:
As I was sieving through my London pictures on Facebook to write my last post, I discovered something about myself: I may have a secret love for the London Underground. Not sure whether this is because of my love for trains, or that I keep roaming around the city which forced me to spend a lot of my time in the tunnels or whether I am just plain weird, I seem to be taking pictures incessantly of anything related to the Tube.
Let’s face it: I think the Tube is fascinating.
Now I know some of you will jump in protest. I am perfectly aware that the London railway system is not the most reliable thing in the world. And despite having only been in London three times, I have had my fair share of disrupted railways, Tube not running on important days like Christmas and getting lost in the tunnels (no surprise there). In fact, when Singapore recently introduced TV screens to indicate the service operation for each of its MRT lines, I joked to my friend that we have dropped to London standard since this means that the service will be disrupted often enough to warrant such investment.
Having said that, you’ve got to admit that London Underground is fascinating. Being the oldest metro system in the world, it is still functioning until now since its opening in 1863. It now has 270 stations with 402 kilometres of track. So I suppose we just have to be more forgiving for the slow upgrades because to be frank, most people would not have the foresight of 150 years or so?
Anyway, whatever your views towards the Tube are, some love just can’t be explained. So here it is, in pictures, my love story with the London Underground.
You can say that I’m lucky. It has been a childhood dream of mine to visit England, London in particular, thanks to all Enid Blyton’s books, Harry Potter and Daniel Radcliffe. And now in the past four years, I have visited London 3 times and loved it very much there. (I did have to wait for 21 years before my first visit, but hey, it is still a dream come true!)
Being one of the most visited cities in the world, London should hold little surprise for anyone: Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, London Bridge, the royal family, Hyde Park, Harrods, you name it. But I guess that’s the beauty of travelling, no matter how much you read about it, the experience you have is your own and no amount of research through travel guides could foretell what you will see there nor the many pleasant surprises that you may encounter.
Like the fact that after all this day-dreaming, the first picture I took in London was actually of the DLR.