Say hello to the creatures in the sky

Musings about life, travel and music.

Settling down in a foreign land.

by Huien Loi

I’m not sure if it’s due to the long duration of my stay here in the States or what, but this trip seems to be the most unprepared one I’ve ever had.

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I was partially overconfident when it came to packing and getting ready because I thought a month in Korea had prepped me for this trip, and I was going to be totally ready – from staying for a period of time to thermal wear.

The 20 hours flight, excluding transit hours was pretty torturous. I never liked sitting on planes for long hours anyway. The whole flying journey just got worse when we were surrounded by really inconsiderate and selfish passengers.

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On the empty train towards the budget terminal.

The JFK airport paled in comparison to Changi Airport, or maybe it was just the budget terminal, I don’t know for sure. For a huge airport the scale of JFK, I would have imagined it to be public-friendly, for example 24/7 cafés at every terminal, sufficient seating area etc. But nope. Nothing was available.. (I might be wrong since I was at a budget terminal). It didn’t help that there were insufficient seats and many travellers like us, waiting for their flight had to sit around on the floor like a homeless wreck.

The one great thing the airport had was wifi, which was totally edible at 3am. 

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And then we zipped off to Buffalo via JetBlue. I was way too tired that I slept through the short flight. When I opened my eyes and looked out of the window, I was truly amazed by what I saw.

Buffalo was unlike New York or Singapore; it looked so chill even from above. There was so much greenery, everything just looked so peaceful even though I was still physically on the plane. When we got off the plane and out of the airport, I saw how serene the entire place was. Not too sure if it’s my kind of thing yet, but it definitely is a refreshing change from the usual hustle and bustle that I’ve experienced for 21 years of my life back in Singapore.

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We were picked up by the super awesome and friendly people from the Singapore Student Association (SGSA), who were incredibly patient and helpful for that day. Debbie and Keith brought us to the Original Pancake House for breakfast. I got myself some banana pancakes, and they were extremely light and fluffy. But the portion was hugeeeee. I can never finish an adult portion here in the States, I guess.

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During the drive around the quiet neighbourhood, I was in awe by how all the houses looked. I loved how each house would look totally different from one another – from the colour to the structure – yet they all just seemed to fit perfectly side by side. Every house looked like it popped up from a fairytale, and I would love to be able to stay in a house like that someday. But oh boy, it’ll never happen in Singapore…

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We went to Walmart to grab some necessities and for some reason, it just didn’t seem as big as I thought it would be. Sure, it was 10x larger than the NTUC outlets in Singapore, but I guess all the talk on how huge the supermarkets are kind of got my expectations up a little and when I went into Walmart, I was like ‘oh okay, is that all?’

On the other hand, when we got to Wegmans a few days later, I fell in love with it. It is such an amazing supermarket, and I would love to go there to buy groceries and actually cook. The huge amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables just looked so attractive, and I was a little distracted by the flowers available in a corner too.

After all the shopping, we finally checked into the residence that we are going to be living in for the next four months…20140824-144729-53249608.jpg

Villas on Rensch literally looks like what you’ll see on a postcard. I absolutely love the shade of blue that the apartments were painted in. The entire place really looked exactly like what it was on the website, it was so stunning. The gym is huge and I’ve used it a couple of times. Thumbs up to all the interesting equipment that I’ve never seen before prior to this trip and now I actually get to use them!

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Way too beautiful. The rent is expensive but we are paying for what we get.

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What our apartment looks like from outside.

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A nice super single (American sized?) bed which is extremely comfy… Either that or I was too tired from the long flight and time difference. I think I’ll resent my small bed when I return home at the end of the year.

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Extremely messy dresser and side table.

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My first ever walk-in wardrobe which I’ll never be able to fill up (and I probably shouldn’t attempt to do so) for the next 4 months! I absolutely love the space though it can feel kinda creepy at times, since I’m so used to my small bedroom.

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Oh the luxury of being able to hang up my stuff without them being all cramped together.

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And the nice little toilet which is just the perfect size, with sufficient space in the cupboard and the medicinal cupboard.20140824-144733-53253727.jpg

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I was really lucky to have won a pair of tickets to the Buffalo Wing Festival which will be happening this weekend! In a span of just one week, I’ve eaten wings twice and I’d conclude that Americans (or Buffalonians) have an extremely different liking when it comes to the flavour of the wings.

We tried Duffs first, which was supposedly one of the best, with the other contender being Anchor Bar. But nah, Duffs sort of failed to live up to our expectations… When it comes to the tenderness or juiciness of the meat, I’m no expert but personally, I didn’t like the type of sauce used.. It was nothing like the Buffalo wings that we have in Singapore. The Singaporean version has been changed to cater to the Singaporeans’ liking, and they taste totally awesome – a nice kick of spiciness and not too sour. However, Duffs’ wings seem to have just been coated with chilli oil and a lot of lime juice… The sauce was not well-infused with the meat.. I guess Singaporeans do take their chicken wings seriously. Nothing beats our BBQed chicken wings!

Our dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings was pretty pleasant though, and yes, the American favourite ‘spicy garlic’ flavour was not to our liking at all. For the first time in my life, I tried wings of so many different interesting flavours – parmesan garlic, asian zing, thai curry etc. – and I absolutely loved them, especially the parmesan garlic.

Despite not being a cheese lover, I’ve eaten so much cheese in one week than in my entire lifetime. The cheese curds at BWW were so delicious, I kid you not. They were fried to perfection – crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside. Mozzarella sticks have got nothing on these cheese curds. I could finish a whole basket of them on my own.

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Despite the rather unpredictable weather (really cold and windy to really hot and sunny), the walk to school is pretty enjoyable… Maybe not so much when the traffic signals are unclear.

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The school is just a quick 10-minute walk away, which is a good exercise. But it’s not that fun walking from Rensch to Baird Hall, which I learnt the hard way from today. It’s about a 20 minute walk in the hot sun. Not cool at all.

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I love how the entire place is so scenic and the grass just looks so unreal. The grass all seemed like carpet grass and the grass patches looked like they would be fun to roll in.

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So much grass.

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Our rented car, which stuck through with us for a week, while we made trips to Walmart, Wegmans and Walden Galleria. Dear Toyota, you will be missed. I loved the times when we would blast the radio and sing in the car (with harmonisation) while driving down the highway. I will miss the smell of your leather seats and try not to compare you to our second-hand car.

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Suaku me have also finally tried Tim Hortons. The drinks are so much cheaper as compared to Starbucks… But they are so sweet, I think my kidneys  shrivel every single time I order a hot drink there. I might just go back to Starbucks again. Doesn’t help that Starbucks has such yummy bagels, like the multi-grain and everything cheese one. I’m going to turn into a cheese addict.

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And being such a loyal student from Buffalo (sarcasm), of course I would buy a Yankees cap over a cap which says ‘BULLS/University at Buffalo’. Hah. The Yankees cap (can’t see the logo here) was such a steal though ($32USD), I simply could not resist it. It was the perfect colour (navy with green on the underside of the cap) and fit!! I will wear caps more frequently!!!

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Oh Buffalo, you look amazing during sunset.

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That’s it for my first week!

We went to the Buffalo Zoo though to be honest, there isn’t much to talk about, since zoos everywhere pretty much have similar animals. While the zoo did not have as much variety as compared to the Singapore Zoo, it felt more relaxing, like a neighbourhood park with animals as an added feature. Wanted to get a magnet for my aunt (magnet collecting maniac) but they were not available!!! So I got a giraffe nanoblock kit for myself in the end! I’m starting to hoard numerous nanoblock kits… I’ve still got 4 undone at home. One can never have enough nanoblocks.

Late night thoughts.

by Huien Loi

I’m not too sure how I can sleep tonight, considering the things that have been happening and I’m having my first lesson all by myself tomorrow. I’m feeling pretty anxious and nervous, yet excited all at the same time. The thought of making new friends, yet wondering if I’ll be the only one in class without any friends.

Before I go to bed with a heavy heart, I just wanted to pour out some of my thoughts here. I somehow hate that 12-hour difference, being unable to go to a friend and just talk about my issues and know that they’ll be able to reply instantaneously. I guess it’s an opportunity for me to be more resilient emotionally.

Let’s just say, I’m not angry (who am I to feel angry anyway). What I’m feeling is disappointment.

The thing is it wasn’t that I wasn’t expecting it. Well, but I still tried to trust anyway and I guess a woman’s sixth sense is ultimately pretty damn accurate. I don’t know what I should do or say. I’m more affected (and upset) than I thought I would be. But it’s okay. I wasn’t expecting much anyway. Just don’t make promises that you can’t keep.

Goodnight.

累了,也淚了。

by Huien Loi

Finally settling into Buffalo now that it’s almost been a week. I’ve been extremely exhausted though, so I hope I’ll be able to catch up on my sleep before the semester officially starts.

Even though it’s just been one week, it somehow feels like eternity, as if a month or more have passed. With all the things going on in my life, I’m not too sure if I’m all that happy.

A part of me wants to go home so badly but another part of me just wants to stay here and forget about what’s going on back in Singapore.

Yeah, maybe it’s just me. Escaping and choosing the easiest way out is the way I do things.

I’m hoping to be able to complete a blogpost about my first week here in the States… But neither my body nor my extremely slow laptop is helping at all.

Oh wells, goodnight. Gonna crash.

有一種說不出的感覺。

by Huien Loi

By the time this gets published on my blog, I’d be on the plane, all the way towards the other side of the world. Unlike the trip to Korea last December, I’m feeling a whole lot more dread and less excitement this time round. I mean, I am excited and all, but I’m apprehensive, paranoid and worried.

I feel great that this is an opportunity for me to be independent, to be a better manager of my own finances (Trying not to blow off $3000 in a month like I did in Seoul…. Woops).. I look forward to having a room of my own, with a walk-in wardrobe and a personal toilet. I don’t exactly look forward to doing all the chores but I guess this is part of my mini training to become a domestic goddess in the future! Maybe I know I’m a step closer to living less like a bum!

However, many things have happened in the past week. I feel sort of lost and a wave of uncertainty just hits me and spins me silly. I feel nervous thinking about how I’m going to get through the next four months.. But I guess, this is a period that will just train me to be a person that’ll be stronger on many more levels – emotionally, mentally and all.

I feel lost, saying goodbyes to my close circle of friends. What am I going to do without them by my side, especially with the 12 hour difference? Even though there’s Skype and all, the time difference makes it a whole lot more difficult to spend some time with them concurrently, due to lessons etc. On the bright side, since I’m a morning person, I’ll be able to Skype all my loved ones early in the day, which would be a nice after-dinner timing for them.

I hope this trip does not clam me up like I did while I was in Korea.. Back then, I sort of completely shut down from the rest of the world, and became extremely dao. The frequent Skype sessions with my family died down after a while and I was just too caught up with trying to live my life alone in a foreign place. I wouldn’t want this to happen this time round.

I know I can do this.

P.S. I absolutely dread the long flight. The thought of having to stay put in my seat for more than 10 hours makes me so fearful ugh. It’s like I can feel my skin crackling from within *shudders*

うまく言えない

by Huien Loi

初めて出逢った日の事を皆さんは今も覚えていますか? (Do you still remember the day we first met?)Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

Last April, after some recommendations from people I know, I enrolled for Japanese lessons at Ikoma with Beryl. While I already knew all my alphabets and a sprinkle of phrases initially, rewriting Hiragana and Katakana for the third time was definitely no joke. I thought that joining with a friend meant that I would rarely interact with the other classmates, since I would always have a partner in class. But Tenbinza was more than just a class filled with people wanting to learn Japanese.

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Fast forward a year, I’d never imagine making so many friends and being close to my current classmates. Through having meals together, I learned more about why they decided to pick up Japanese (usually because of anime and dramas).. It was pretty interesting, since that was not my reason for doing so. I guess for me, it was due to having the opportunity to do a third language in secondary school, however I was unable to keep up with it, so I had to stop mid-way. Somewhere over the years, I decided to pick it up again~

After all the interaction, I found that we all had so much more in common than I thought. There was a junior from Dunman High, and a few seniors from SIMGE (and even UB. UB PRIDE!).

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Thanks to my enthusiastic friends, we’ve been out a few times before – having meals together, watching Black Butler (黒執事) and even going for a karaoke session and trying out the Club DAM machine. It was certainly fun trying to figure out how to select the songs we wanted to sing and I realised I’m actually much better at singing Japanese songs, as compared to Korean or Mandarin. I hardly do sing Japanese songs during karaoke sessions, maybe except for once… And I never know why.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset I had enough faith in Shinjuku Restaurant to bring Masuda sensei there for a meal. Not too sure how it fares in comparison to authentic Japanese cuisine… Since she will never say a meal is bad or anything!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI’m so glad we brought her to the Charlie Brown Cafe, since she loves Peanuts. Even though the food wasn’t exactly fantastic, the company was great! I hope that this was memorable for her, or at least one of the nicer memories to take away from her stay in Singapore.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetIt’s sad to see sensei no longer teaching at Ikoma anymore.. And I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get used to another sensei when I’m back from US to continue studying Japanese. Masuda sensei has been the liveliest and cutest sensei I’ve ever had throughout my entire Japanese learning journey.

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Even though I’m still at a very basic level, I really regretted not studying hard enough to be able to converse more fluently with sensei. All that awkward pauses, trying to figure out how to say things in Japanese, and eventually saying it wrongly, especially when I know I’ve learnt how to say it before. Yes, that letter above was penned with the help of Google and my phone application…. And even so, I can’t be sure that it’s grammatically sound.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset Thank you for everything Masuda sensei (or… Aya-chan~?). 本当にありがとう!

「この気持ちはずっとずっとわすれないよ!」

A familiar stranger.

by Huien Loi

A trip to the temple this time of the year, a yearly affair. We’ve been doing this, ever since we moved out of the previous apartment and our current house no longer has an altar.

Even though I’m long used to the routine – setting up the fruits and flowers, lighting up the joss stick to pray, burning paper money at the furnace – something felt different this year. Every year, I make the same prayer to my paternal grandparents, and every time I do so, I get a bit teary, especially when I’m faced with the fact that my parents are constantly growing older. With each passing year, I earnestly hope that my prayers get answered even when I don’t believe in such things.

Sometimes I wonder if they do even come true, especially after what happened in 2008 and last year. But I can only hold on to that hope and make the same prayer, twice every year.

This time round, I looked hard at the photographs of my paternal grandparents, and I realised, my grandmother started to look a little unfamiliar from what I last remembered of her, when I was 7. My grandfather passed away before I was even born, so there’s only one image of him etched in my memory. My grandmother though, appears in blurry flashbacks; her face I can’t quite remember anymore. I still remember the fateful day when she passed away, the stretcher in her room. I just woke up in the morning, and didn’t quite grasp what was going on. Things then hit me when the wake took place, and all I remember now was how I cried a lot and got really tired from all the crying.

I start to wonder, how many more years am I going to continue this tradition. Am I going to do this for my parents? I don’t know. To me, it’s just something I’m told to do – I just tag along with my parents and do the same things without thinking. When we were still at the old house, we sort of had a family bonding session, folding golden ingots together. Now, we don’t do that anymore. I don’t really see the purpose of the tradition, but I guess we just do it anyway.

On a lighter note, I went to the kitchen in the wee hours of the morning yesterday and thought to myself, “Time of the year again.” (No prizes for guessing who was the hungry ghost that night). And then, my brother stealthily came from behind and scared the hell out of me. Gee, thanks.

The disappearance of the girl.

by Huien Loi

What do you do when there’s nothing left to say?

It’s scary how almost everything you say is accurate. You are right when you say I chose the easy way out, when ‘bad you’ was winning over ‘good you’ – though I honestly don’t think there exists a bad or good, because what ‘bad you’ thinks is not necessarily ‘bad’. It’s scary for me too, how things went through one whole circle, and back to square one.

I read through my old posts and I wonder – what happened? To be honest, I’m not sure either. I’m not sure if I don’t know or I just don’t want to know. What happened to the every ounce of confidence I seemed to have back then? What happened to everything, which vanished into nothing?

I think about things and I can only agree that I chose the easy way out.

Truth is, nobody knows me, not myself either. I don’t want to believe that my feelings are like a switch – it can be turned on and off anytime I want. But somewhere in between, things changed, I got used to being alone (again) and feelings fade. Perhaps there was a problem before you even left. The thought of it just makes my stomach churn. I cringe and I don’t want to think about it ever again.

It doesn’t help with the way things ended, and then a certain someone made things more awkward than it was (I don’t really want to say anything about it, but just one word, childish). Now, I only wish for you to hate me, if it makes it easier for you to get through. I can’t offer any explanations, just apologies. That is all I’m capable of, I guess.

I’m honestly sick of myself too. I hate how I listen to those annoying stupid heartbreak songs and constantly just think of myself as being a terrible person, and think that that’s just who I am.

Maybe that’s just who I’ll ever be.

I’d say everything points to, the disappearance of the girl.

2NE1 AON

by Huien Loi

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Ah…. Where should I begin? It was quite a different experience, watching a girl group for the first time, as well as being at the moshpit at a Korean concert for the first time.

Initially, I wasn’t expecting much from this concert, partly because I was afraid I’d be disappointed (like I sort of was for BIGBANG). I was also pretty apprehensive about CL’s live performance, since I felt that her style was becoming very similar to GD’s performance style. Even though it’s undeniable that they both have got great stage presence, I sometimes feel that they could sing a little more… (based on their live performance videos)

One good thing about the moshpit area this time round though was an allocated standing queue number, meaning that we would enter the standing arena according to our allocated numbers, hence it was really fair, and no need for any of that overnight queuing nonsense. However, SIS/Sports Hub ushers/crowd-control people did quite a bad job of managing the various numbered segments, which was slightly disappointing. I presume that this was the same problem CN Blue fans faced, and since this is a newly introduced system in Singapore, I hope that it will be further improved on to ensure greater fairness for the fans who are paying a lot of money to watch their idols perform.

Thankfully, Deborah and I managed to get a pretty decent standing spot (5th row, middle section) and I guess our view was pretty great the entire night (We were really close, and got an excellent view of their gorgeous legs and faces ^^). I liked how they showed all the different 2NE1 MVs, to slowly build up the hype among fans and a small group of people were also sort of teaching the rest how to do the fanchants during the actual performances (though the screaming and singing kinda drowned out the proper fanchants).

The show finally started, with them performing CRUSH, which was a great choice to kickstart the concert (well of course, what better way to start than to have your crowd waving their lightsticks and shouting ‘I’M A BITCH’). During this segment of the concert, I especially love the pink laser guns they held (during Pretty Boy… I think). Even though it was supposed to be a ‘masculine’ segment, I just thought they were really cute with the laser guns.

One thing I didn’t really appreciate about the concert were the fillers in between the different segments of the show. They had a video explaining the concept of the AON concert, which was essentially made up of four themes – masculinity (pink), purity (white), sexy (red) and rebellion (black). Though I liked the explanation which allowed the audience to better understand the way they did the line-up, I felt that the playback for half of the concert was pretty unnecessary. Though I would say they pretty much didn’t have a choice, since unlike BIGBANG, the only members who have had solo songs were Bom and CL. With that said, what happened to WINNER? Singapore was the only stop without them doing the opening, damn. Also, I was hoping Bom would perform You And I or Don’t Cry but she never did get her solo performance. CL and Minzy did not perform Please Don’t Go either…. :( What a waste, since that song is extremely good and highly underrated.

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CL’s really cute outfit for the sexy segment.

Of course, the highlight of the concert was CL’s 멘붕 (MTBD). I have been anticipating it since the very first time I heard the song. The song was not only great, but CL’s performance was amazing too. It was so much better than the performance video that was released on YT. I wished I could have recorded it down but the security was extremely strict (one girl got taken out of the moshpit oh gosh).

Overall, the girls put up an extremely energetic performance, as most of the songs they sang were fast-paced and they were just dancing and gyrating non-stop. I wasn’t too sure I liked their sexy concept, since I’ve always seen 2NE1 as a tough and strong group, rather than being aegyo or sexy. I won’t deny that the girls were extremely sexy, during the I Love You performance, when they caressed 4 lucky Singaporean guys (hell yeah, Dara sat on a guy’s laps while facing him and was so close to kissing him, and CL hooked one leg over a guy’s shoulder – DIED). But other than that, I think the shaking of their butts or doing lots of body waves didn’t do much in making me think that it was sexy. I guess, it was really more of a personal preference thing.

I really liked the stage set up too, which was very interesting, as they transitioned from segment to segment. The human motorcycles for I Am The Best were impressive, as I never knew they were literally riding on the backs of their dancers until the dancers stood up to dance.

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I was also extremely pleased with the rock versions of both I Don’t Care and Go Away. I think they’re both awesome and YG should re-release both versions.

Before the encore segment, Blackjacks started chanting ‘놀자 HEY HEY HEY 놀자’ (let’s play), instead of your typical ‘encore’ at any regular concert. After a few minutes, the girls entered from the doors into the standing area, and they started to touch some fans’ hands, while singing Lonely. Dara got a cute Kiiroitori hat thingy from a fan, which she promptly wore it on stage. Even though Minzy and Dara weren’t very fluent with English, they tried their best to engage the fans, and boy, the way they spoke English was so adorable! Some mosh pit fans started throwing soft toys for the girls and they played with them while performing. I think my love for Dara is increasing again, especially when she was getting fans to do the Do You Love Me fanchant again.

Dara: Do you love me?

Blackjacks: YES!

Dara: Do you love me?

Blackjacks: YES!

Dara: *awwww expression*

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Thank you girls for the amazing performance and time! What a great way to end my 21st celebration with a 2NE1 performance!

It’s all or nothing, baby.

P.S. Some of their backup dancers were pretty cute too.

Photos were from a lovely stranger, named Jon. I shamelessly asked him to send me the photos since he had a better view of the stage as compared to me. Thank you so much Jon!

Hoho Myoll

by Huien Loi

One of my favourite cafes.

A nice touch of vintage with lots of interesting props that gives the cafe an extremely warm and homely feel. The cafe is adorn with customers’ artworks on the serviettes that are being displayed on various walls in the cafe, including the washroom.

I’ll definitely go back to Hoho Myoll again the next time I’m in Korea… And I’ll have to try their food, not just the beverage!

I wished Singapore had more of such cafes… Perhaps I simply haven’t been to a cafe this detailed yet.

이렇게 좋은 날

by Huien Loi

「어쩜 이렇게 하늘은 더 파란 건지?

오늘따라 왜 바람은 또 완벽한지?」

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Sometimes you tend to forget the beauty of the place you live in till you go out and wander for a bit. After living in Singapore for 21 years, I can’t help but constantly compare the way Singapore looks to other places. Singapore has a really beautiful city skyline and night scenery but somehow, other places tend to look a whole lot better. The grass is always greener where you water it I guess.

I’m still glad I forced myself out of the house to wander around a bit and the weather helped tremendously in making me love Singapore even more.

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Blue skies, slight breeze, except with a not so optimal temperature. The experience would have been a lot better if it was less warm.

 

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So I froze my butt for a bit.

Not too sure if it was the training I had in Korea during winter, but the 2Degree Ice Art Museum wasn’t as cold as I had expected it to be. For some reason, even though I was decked in many layers, a winter coat and winter gloves in the Ice Museum at Hongdae, the cold was still pretty unbearable. This exhibition was pretty lackluster though. I think even the special 1-for-1 price didn’t make me feel like my money was worth it (And we had to pay $5 to rent the outer jacket)

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While waiting for our fingers to defrost for just a bit…

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The weather was really in our favour that day. The flowers along the pavement made me felt like it was truly spring.

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Bryan using his selfie-pod to take a photo of us….

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While I took a photo of our shadow with him using the selfie-pod or what seems like an umbrella handle in this picture.

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Perfect place for an #OOTD shot. I was crazy to layer a denim shirt over my white T.

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Took some photos and thinking to myself that I don’t remember Singapore being this gorgeous.

Maybe it’s because all the times I’ve been to Gardens by the Bay, it was in the evening/night. (Not that it isn’t gorgeous but I think I prefer how this place looks in the day)

Weirdly enough, I’ve been here 2/3 times and I still haven’t explored the place fully yet.

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Thanks Bryan for the super lovely floral shades!

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We were decked out in our Timberland boots.

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There’s always a time to get fatter. I could distinctively taste the infused-tea flavour in the chocolate one.

I really should get out of the house and walk around more frequently instead of bumming around and watching my Korean dramas. I think I’ve watched about 10 dramas in just a month, along with my usual weekly programmes. No regrets though, some of them are really good.

Looking back, when I was younger, I would love romantic dramas but now these shows don’t really appeal as much as they do anymore (*cough* The Heirs and You Who Came From The Stars *cough*) Alien one was a lot better because of Kim Soohyun.

 

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