I lost my hat (and I’m done with my thesis).

I am back, after a prolonged period of absence where I was just basically avoiding all forms of human contact apart from with my flatmate. It was getting dangerously addictive to stay away from all forms of electronic communications that I was so tempted to never emerge again, but I realised I have so much to account to my friends back home that I had to immediately banish that thought. Plus my mind was getting all tangled up from the lack of non-thesis-related writing that in the end I had to force myself to get up, get over my post-thesis laptop trauma and compose this post.

Just to get you up to speed with what has been happening, I had been bogged down with my thesis for the past 6 weeks or so. It was a long period of time to be concentrating on something if you ask me, but my supervisor clearly did not share the sentiment; after seeing my progress four weeks before the deadline, he freaked out a little (a lot) – according to him, I was very much behind the schedule with my writing and when he saw that I did not have a single trace of panic in my voice, he made me write this on my laptop screen, capital letters and all, to drill down the message.

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True enough, the weeks following that were nothing short of manic. I spent hours and hours in the library, trying to make up for lost time. I guess my friends were right all this time: I should have started writing much earlier.

I did not know how I did it in the end, but I managed to churn out a 6,000-word story plus a 6,000-word dissertation in 2.5 weeks. It was probably not my best piece of work, but hey my supervisor offered to be my reference for my job application in the end, so I guess it wasn’t too shabby after all.

Now that I’m back, I wish I could start by telling all of you about something cheerful – my library exploration, the trips to Stockholm, Oxford and Cambridge and possibly about all the chocolates that I consumed while writing my thesis. Alas, I have to get back to the surface with a rather grim matter, something that has been bothering me for the past few weeks. Just like everything else, I figured I would feel slightly better if I just rant to the whole world about it through my blog. So here goes.

I lost my hat.

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The very hat that I had previously flaunted to everyone and anyone polite enough to listen to a weird person talking incessantly about her hat. The very hat that had kept my head warm throughout the winter in London and Copenhagen.

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At this point, I find it pertinent to inform all of you my lovely readers about this one important fact: Just in case you haven’t noticed, I really like my hat.

Owing to my abnormally large head size, finding a hat that suits me had been a real challenge. Wearing a beanie has invoked much laughter from my sister and friends: my dear sister said I looked like a Hershey’s kiss. One of my friends had a much better PG-13 description: she said I looked like I was wearing a grey condom.

So imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon this beauty at the discount rack of an Accessorize outlet at Paddington. Not only did it look pretty, it miraculously fit my head (if I squeezed hard enough)! When I wore it, it felt a little like when Harry Potter held his wand for the first time at Ollivander’s – sparks were flying everywhere and I immediately knew that this particular piece of clothing had chosen me to be its owner.

Continue reading “I lost my hat (and I’m done with my thesis).”

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I am and will be MIA until the 5th of May.

I decided to write this post for several reasons.

One, because I’m in a real danger of breaking my track record since this blog started – I have written at least one post every month since December 2013.

Two, because I just submitted the first full 6000-word draft of my thesis to my supervisor so my brain has some capacity to churn out words. I still have another 6000 to go, but that’s besides the point.

Three, because my stress level is at an all-time high, I get irritated by little things very easily. I simply have to rant.

In particular, this recent phenomenon of people not taking my warning seriously.

Recently, I posted this on Facebook, which I’m sure many of my Facebook friends saw judging from the number of responses that I received.

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And then a strange phenomenon happened. More people are starting to text me on Facebook, people that I haven’t even heard from in a while (I’m talking years).

I appreciate a lot of the well wishes that came for me in completing my thesis. And I do understand that there are some questions that you might forget if you didn’t send me right away. I sincerely apologise for not having gotten back to you. Many of you have been incredibly gracious and understanding and you don’t know how much that means to me.

Plus you are fine, you are not the ones who irritate me.

It is those who then proceeded to text me again to nudge me for not replying. If I have read your messages and not reply you during the next week or so, that’s because I simply haven’t got the time to. Which part of “I will be rubbish at replying to your text messages” do you not understand? Unless you are my parents (and possibly my flatmate) who will genuinely get worried whether I’m alive if I didn’t reply for a day, you will simply have to wait.

I know I sound really snobbish and I should not be ranting about this. I should even be grateful that I have friends who still text me. But that is precisely why I posted that picture with the caption, because I do cherish my friends and will always do my best to reply everyone promptly but I am simply going to be rubbish during this period. And I will get back to you in due course, just please don’t text me again simply to nudge me to reply.

Even chocolate baits won’t work. Maybe.

Primrose Hill Market, London.

I was recently introduced to a friend of a friend who went backpacking around South East Asia last year. When I spoke to her, I felt a familiar feeling of shame creeping into me, the same one that always appeared whenever I spoke to travellers like her.

She, after a few weeks in my side of the world, has visited more places than I have the twenty six years I was living in the region.

Usually, a few minutes into the conversation, the name Cambodia would come up and I would have to reluctantly admit that I haven’t stepped on that country’s soil even once.

“I have been to Myanmar though,” I normally added in a bid to present myself as a more appreciative South East Asian.

I attribute this shameful phenomenon to what I call proximity ungratefulness. When a place is so close to where you live, you will naturally find it less exciting and will not go out of your way to visit.

I am thus careful of not letting the same thing happen to me here in London. I try to appreciate things around me, even stuff that is within walking distance from my flat.

One of my most recent finds was the Primrose Hill Market.

Primrose Hill is world-famous, and I have been there countless times. It has a beautiful unobstructed view of London and is equally charming during the day and night.

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But today I’m not here to talk about the Hill. I’m here for something that happens at the foot of the hill every Saturday, unbeknownst to many: the Primrose Hill Market.

Continue reading “Primrose Hill Market, London.”

Hackney City Farm, London.

At the start of this year I ambitiously declared that I have found a magical way to slow down the time.

Yet 2017 has simply been ramming itself like a charging bull on steroid, and I’m at loss once again on how to make the time stop. With a blink of an eye, it is already March. The weather got a lot warmer, the daylight stayed for a couple of minutes longer each day, and flowers start to blossom; spring is just around the corner.

It is strange to think that just a couple of weeks ago I was trying to ease back into the chilly weather in London, having spent December and January back home in the tropics. And on one of the coldest days of February, we visited the Hackney City Farm.

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Being surrounded by friends who grew up close to the nature, I have often behaved like an ignorant city girl in comparison. I remember asking someone, to both his bemusement and amusement, whether the flowers on the flowerbed we walked past were real (they clearly were).

Don’t get me wrong; I love the nature. I really do (except for those crawling insects that come with the nature in the tropics, and maybe snakes. And a couple more weird looking animals). And I have a weakness for cows – I think they are one of the cutest creatures alive. I am just never exposed to them very much.

So imagine my excitement when my friend told me about Hackney City Farm, which was set up for people like me: so I don’t have to drive (not that I can) for hours to see cows and horses and donkeys, and I get to immerse myself in the earthy smell of manure right at the heart of the city.

We agreed to meet right around lunch time so our first stop was brunch at Cafe Frizzante, which was located inside the complex. It being located inside the farm added a nice touch to the location.

It sounds barbaric now that I think about it, but the first animals that we encountered at the farm were this.

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The bacon and sausage that were once pigs.

Continue reading “Hackney City Farm, London.”

Back in Copenhagen, again.

There is nothing quite like your first love (in Europe).

Everyone remembers their first love.

It probably happened a long time ago.

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This was taken 8 years ago in 2009, when I was probably 8 kg lighter.

For some, it might have been just a short-lived crush. But for many, it lasted for a few years.

Because for some reason, you kept coming back for more…

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2010

And more…

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2012
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2013
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2014

Continue reading “Back in Copenhagen, again.”

A crazy long year that was 2016.

I used to measure my year by the number of countries I visited. Travelling has been such an integral part of my life – it is largely how I spent growing up into almost-adulthood since I was 20. The swift movement of packing, catching the planes and trains (or missing them) and exploring new sights while getting helplessly lost have in themselves been valuable lessons and shaped very much who I am today.

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I figure out life just like how I travel: looking perpetually lost.

This time round, however, counting the number of countries I visited seems to be somewhat… superficial.

I get a severe writer’s block every time I try summing up what last year has been for me. Often times, 2016 felt like a giant piece of blanket, made of patches of different cloths randomly sewn together, each piece as distinct as it is colourful. Way too often, the parts felt like it would give way any time, the thread holding them coming loose, but somehow it worked out, the fabric all stitched up somewhat nicely in the end.

(And you can tell that I am excellent at analogies. Not.)

Last year was my craziest so far, and by far. I lived in three different countries within a year, and did some extensive travelling in between. Most of my friends never quite knew where I was, and to be honest, sometimes I didn’t really know either.

I know that people say the older you get, the faster time flies. But I think I have found the recipe to slow down the time. You just need to have things keeping you constantly on your toes, so much so that it keeps you awake at night sometimes.

For me, trying to keep half-watch on what I own has been keeping me on my toes. I needed to make sure that by the end of every few months, I could still cram everything into my suitcases, ready to hurl them to the other side of the world. Being the hoarder and over-packing person that I am, it was a challenge in its own right.

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I have had 100% success rate so far packing all these into suitcases.

Not to mention that it was the first full year that I was jobless in a long time – the fact that I didn’t have a steady stream of income was hitting me hard. I had to think hard for a lot of purchases that I used to take for granted, although on hindsight, it did keep my possessions in check, hence helping me to be less of a hoarder.

Continue reading “A crazy long year that was 2016.”