Forgotten moments of 2017.

I haven’t been able to write for weeks. I don’t know why but words just do not seem to flow anymore.

I’ve tried everything. I’ve blocked out time to just sit down and write. I have sat down and gone through my hard disks full of pictures over and over again to find inspiration. I have opened the Everywhereist and reread old posts more than I care to admit. But nothing seems to work. Nothing has yet spilled on this screen, no moment of sparks that made me go ‘aha’. Even if I had set myself a topic to write, I opened up my blank canvas, browsed through the pictures that I could potentially use, and did not feel inspired to write.

So the only way left now is to address the elephant in the room: the writer’s block itself. I have decided to look at the gargantuan problem straight into the eyes and say, “Hey I acknowledge your presence. Now can you please get the heck out of here?”

And I know that it’s not because of a lack of stuff to write. I have so much that I want to share with you from the countless trips that I took over the past two years. But I guess this being a travel blog, I sometimes find it inappropriate to share about my past trips when I’m technically not an active traveller anymore, at least for now.

And when I looked at old pictures from this year (yes all those travelling days felt soo long ago), I was surprised at how much I have forgotten, and there were even pictures of myself that I did not recognise. It felt much like when I was reading “The world this year” section of The Economist’s Christmas Special edition. I kept saying to myself “I can’t believe this happened earlier this year.”

So here are some of those moments, the forgotten pictures that have been part as much a part of 2017 as those that I had somehow remembered more vividly.

A picture of pure happiness of me at a Copenhagen Metro station. My happiness knew no place.

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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.

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A regret and a keyring.

People deal with their miseries in different ways.

One of my main sources of miseries is from regret of not doing something that I could have done. It was something I had known right from the start I wanted, but over the years, I got distracted and the possibility of fulfilling that wish seemed a lot more remote than how it had been in reality. I could have visited London 2012 Olympics had I worked hard enough for it, but I had not. So the Olympics came and went and my life is still Olympic-less.

It is so unlike me to dwell in past regrets, especially those that happened a few years ago. But I just finished reading ‘Stardust’, a novel by Neil Gaiman and re-watched the movie subsequently. It was then that I remembered that the end credit of the movie was Take That’s ‘Rule the World’, one of my favourite songs of all time. Naturally, I went to YouTube to search for all the different versions of the song, and this came up:

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Wimbledon, and its little surprises.

In London, even the most quaint of all places hold surprises. And this is one of the reasons why I love the city so much.

This time round, Wimbledon, a suburban district in Southwest London, caught me off guard.

I was fortunate enough to have a really good friend of mine and his lovely family host me at their house in Wimbledon for a week. Apart from being able to get an authentic English experience with all of them (and having delicious traditional English dishes prepared for me by my friend’s mom who is an excellent cook), I also got to explore a new part of London that I have always wanted to visit.

Ever since I was a kid, I only knew Wimbledon as the tennis tournament. It was not until four years ago when I first came to London that I realised it is a name of a place and that the tournament was named after the town.

And Wimbledon is indeed more than just about tennis. It is very residential, away from the hustle and bustle of Central London but has pretty much everything you need in the area. If I were to describe it as anything, it would be that it reminded me of Privet Drive in Harry Potter.

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Obviously my favourite place in Wimbledon.

Continue reading “Wimbledon, and its little surprises.”

Look Mum No Hands!

I have a new favourite thing in London: pop-up bars!

They are basically bars, set up temporarily in strategic locations, generally during summer I suppose.

Look mum no hands in itself is a unique coffee-bar. Their permanent outlets can be found in Old Street and Mare Street in London, and it is designed for cyclists. They show films and cycle sports on their big projector screen, and they hold workshops and have mechanics to fix bikes.

The pop-up bar can be found in Southbank, right under Hungerford Bridge. I remember I was walking by the River Thames, weaving through the tourists while ‘My Heart Will Go On’ was being played by the street musician.

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And then right there, just opposite the musician, tucked in a corner under Hungerford Bridge was Look Mum No Hands pop-up bar.

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Header of the Month: Waterloo Bridge.

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On Waterloo Bridge where we said our goodbyes,
the weather conditions bring tears to my eyes.
I wipe them away with a black woolly glove
And try not to notice I’ve fallen in love

On Waterloo Bridge I am trying to think:
This is nothing. you’re high on the charm and the drink.
But the juke-box inside me is playing a song
That says something different. And when was it wrong?

On Waterloo Bridge with the wind in my hair
I am tempted to skip. You’re a fool. I don’t care.
the head does its best but the heart is the boss-
I admit it before I am halfway across

– Serious Concerns by Wendy Cope

Notting Hill Carnival.

I’m starting to sense a pattern here. Whenever I discover something accidentally, it is normally when I’m in a pursuit of food.

It happened again last Sunday. I was getting hungry after having a nice lie-in, and I stepped out of the flat very sure of one thing: I would like to have a hoisin duck wrap from Pret-A-Manger, a fruit smoothie and possibly a high-fibre muffin. So I set off, with the firm purpose in mind, to look for the nearest Pret-A-Manger.

But soon I got distracted by the thumping noise that seemed to come from just down the road. Since I did not know where the nearest Pret anyway, I decided to just follow the noise and see what was happening and turned back to take the tube from the station I normally go.

Except that I lost my bearing as soon as I walked a different way. When I chanced upon the street map, I seemed to have already veered pretty far from where I was supposed to go (and I still had not found the source of the noise by the way). So I decided to go to the nearest tube station shown on the map, Royal Oak. By that point in time, I was already very hungry and could not wait to see Pret.

As it turned out, Royal Oak tube station was closed for the day, and I was told to keep walking to the next tube station, Bayswater. Grumpily, I kept walking, not realising that I was walking right into the Notting Hill Carnival, the biggest street carnival in Europe!

When I finally figured out what was going on, I got really excited and decided to explore what was happening in the carnival.

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This was what made me realise there must have been something special going on.

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