Settling down in a foreign land.

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.

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Hoho Myoll

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

「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.

 

「慧入韓國 #3」

So I finally got my butt down to editing all my photos from Korea… Boy, I miss that place.

Now that I have been home for 4 months now, I really can’t wait for the day where I can be back in Korea, for good, perhaps. Since this exchange programme, I have been thinking about what I want to do in the future, partially also due to the hard truth that I will be graduating in a year’s time. I first entered University thinking it would still be a long way to go but hell no, I’m left with only a year. How on earth did time fly past so quickly?

To cut the long story short, let’s just say, I’m in search for job opportunities in Korea. I just hope all that would work out somehow. *crosses fingers*

Spending a month in Seoul has been wonderful and I can imagine myself living there. I could eat Korean food all day and all the cheap cosmetics and stationery is just pure bliss. God bless the amount of stationery, stickers, letter paper etc. that I bought home. Seoul is probably the perfect city for me to live in, minus the fact that I’ll probably have major self-esteem issues of not being skinny or beautiful (Korean standards) enough.

A month definitely wasn’t enough to explore the city though I have been to several beautiful places, and spent a lot of money on coffee that all tasted so ridiculously good. Maybe it was the cold season, that’s why anything warm tasted nothing short of delicious.

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Lots and lots of snow, on the way out of Seoul to Daejeon. The thing about long travelling distances and hours is that it makes you appreciate how convenient Singapore is. I certainly do not need 2 hours to travel to the other end of Singapore.

Thanks to Kyung Hee University (경희대학교), we managed to attend the Magnolia Concert and I saw some Korean singers!

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Davichi (다비치), which instantly blew me off my seat and I was sold.

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G.Na (지나) as usual being really sexy but she slimmed down so so much it was a bit scary.

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First time listening to Juniel (주니엘)!

The weather was great for walking around all day and not break a sweat. It would get chilly but there is always a coffee place around the corner where you can seek warmth and chill with wifi!

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Insadong (인사동), one of my favourite places. All the small lanes with small shops and hidden cafes.

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Ssamzigil (쌈지길), which was an interesting building with many stores selling DIY stuff. Abit too expensive for my wallet’s taste though I guess.

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Going to Gwanghwamun (광화문) was kind of surreal because I only knew it from the infamous ‘almost-bombing’ scene from IRIS.

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Gyeongbokgoong (경복궁) was really huge that we really did not manage to explore much at all. Everywhere started to look pretty much the same, and the palace sort of ended up being a maze.

It was also at the main entrance when I realised this was the palace where they filmed Queen In-Hyun’s Man (이현왕후 의 남자). The thought of being at the very same place as Yoo In-Na (유인나) and Ji Hyun-Woo (지현우) was extremely surreal as well.

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One of my favourite parts of travelling would be looking at the city’s infrastructure. Sometimes, the densely situated tall buildings in Singapore just makes me feel extremely squeamish, and I kind of do appreciate other countries’ architecture more. There is also something different about the ancient Korean houses..

I am glad my friends and I did not give Bukchon Hanok Village (북촌한옥마을) a miss!

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Another thing that I love about Korea would the the random street art all over the city that is extremely beautiful and not just some hot mess.

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We did not miss out on Seoul’s amazing night view too, so what better place than going to the Namsan Tower and look at Seoul from high up in the sky.
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The Lovers’ Chair, meant for couples to slide down towards each other.

The night at Namsan Tower was extremely memorable since we bravely fought the unforgiving and harsh winds that nearly made me give up on putting up my lock, which was not an easy task considering the number of locks that were already being hung up. After endless strings of vulgarities, we finally made our way down Namsan alive (so smart, for some reason we decided to get a one-way cable car ride up, hence we had to walk all the way down the hill). It was also the night where I realised my Korean name was quite a common one too. Bleh.

Of course, the best part of Korea is her cuisine; the wide variety of food catered well to my tastebuds. Ever since my return, I have yet to try anything that has given me the kick which truly brings me back to Korea. Korean food in Singapore is pretty much catered to the Singaporean taste, I suppose? Either that or the great disparity in the quality of ingredients (*cough* sweet onions, cabbage, garlic etc.) and the lack of generosity (Most places here pretty much serve watered down soup with little to no ingredients).

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Soondae (순대)… Which was so good. Something as simple as stuffed rice in blood sausages, dipped with a little salt could taste so good. I love how the sellers are usually pretty generous with the pig innards too (thumbs up) but I don’t like how most places do not really process the meat well hence there is a stench, which I really do not like.

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I could survive on odeng (오댕) all day long, though I would die from hypertension.

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Hotteok (호떡), which I should have eaten more of.

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Ginseng chicken (삼계탕) – not really my thing.

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First time having Korean spicy braised chicken and holy shit it was so good. The sweet onions, with the well broiled potatoes and chicken. Best part of this was dumping the rice into the leftover sauce at the end, mixing it all up and just eating it like that. The description probably makes it sound like swine food but it tastes like heaven.

Another thing I love about Korea is how serious their coffee culture is. Coffee shops everywhere – huge international coffee chains (Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Coffee Bean), huge Korean coffee chains (Ediya Coffee, Holly’s Coffee, Mango Six) but the best ones are the small hidden gems. These cafes usually have amazing decor and they feel especially warm and cosy (Cafe Noriter, Rousseau & Rousseau, Hoho Myoll).

Both Hoho Myoll and Cafe Noriter are extremely cute with their decor, which makes you fall in love with the place in an instant but I love Hoho Myoll for its vintage touch and Cafe Noriter can be quite inconvenient (since customers had to remove their shoes).

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The amount of effort that the owners put into decorating the cafe… Loved all the drawings on the wall. Loved the cat that was freely roaming around in the cafe too.

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Koreans must be ridiculously talented because there were so many amazing doodles on serviettes stuck all over the cafe.

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There were mini Volkswagen buses placed around the cafe…. And a real one inside the cafe, where customers can sit inside and enjoy their cup of coffee.

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Even the cups were gorgeous.

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ET in his ride.

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Singapore has an insanely strong cafe hopping culture but the local cafes have got nothing on those in Korea. Cat and dog cafes can be found everywhere in Korea (and probably at a much lower price too), and they even have a cafe with sheep. Try beating that Singapore.

When a cafe in Korea has a theme going on, that theme is really strong and consistent. The props used, the atmosphere they create, it’s perfect. The owners really do have an eye for details and that is what makes the cafes so distinctive.

 

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죽기전에 나는 ……. 싶다.

 

 

Hello, goodbye.

Jonathan Clay’s Hello Goodbye is in my head and he’s singing ‘I’m so tired of the rainy days’ and it’s raining outside….

2012

Photo of the swans taken at Switzerland, beside The Chapel Bridge

Well well…. 2012 went past in a blink of an eye in a way I’ve never experienced before.. It was extremely fast and I guess it’s because I wasn’t studying for a good 9 months. I was also working for 7-8 months, at two different companies – two very different working atmospheres and job scopes. For 6 months, I did so much, it was pretty fulfilling I must say, working with that company. I had so much interaction with people, be it in person, or on the phone, and sending countless of emails to so many strangers. I had to call up countless of companies and talk to their staff, some of which weren’t really friendly (Quite big names lol but details which I can’t reveal, of course). I’ve met people who view themselves as being so superior and they spoke to me in demeaning ways (High position in big company, wah). I helped out with the company’s audit and worked with a lovely bunch of people, and I’ve learnt so much in that short period of time. Then of course, I started working at St. Games for a really short period of time but the working atmosphere was amazing with the right people. I’ve always enjoyed interacting with people (staff or customers) so I guess, I really liked what I was doing, especially when I wasn’t working for the money but rather to be out of home and killing my time.

Through working, I learnt the hard truth that even though I had a stable income of nearing $1k+ (including CPF) for about 7 months, even if I were to not touch my pay at all, I would still be unable to pay for the first semester of my University education, and that really sucked.

2012 was a really lucky year for me though I must say.. I was extremely fortunate to have been able to go for 2 overseas trips, about 10 countries in total. I have also met a really great person in my life who tells me how much he loves me everyday and I have a selfish wish that even if I were to be very unreasonable one day (for god knows what reason), he would hold me and remind me of how we first met and how we both chose to take a leap of faith.

I am unable to find my resolutions for 2012, but I guess it was something like how I have to exercise regularly which failed terribly because I only exercised regularly for 1 month….. I’m going to plan out my 2013 resolutions well and keep track of it constantly.. I can do this! I will do it!!!

And because, yours truly here was trying out some Photoshop stuff a few weeks back, so I ended up with a mishmash of random photo edits..

grandson

Camwhore sessions with the grandson. I swear sometimes we meet with the sole purpose of purely taking photos (of ourselves).

europe_summary copyThe different places I’ve been to in Europe.
Everything in Europe looks good once you Instagram it. I wish we had similar infrastructure in Singapore instead of standard HDB flats… Which is impossibru.

hongkong2Finally going to Hongkong and I tried so much good food!

Great dimsum and bo luo yao at Mongkok, and I bought my Nike high-tops fairly cheaply, and we also got a giant Rilakkuma bear!

19I turned 19…. My very last teenage year T ^ T
(That’s my name on that pink frame thing… Which was meant for babies actually)

POP

Attended Bryan’s POP with the Thunder Buddies… I really don’t like sweaty (and smelly) guys….

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Watching fireworks with a guy alone on National Day for the very first time in my life… It was really special :’)
We made 2 new friends, both of which are plants……… Hah!

USSHaving the time of my life at USS with Choy, experiencing the thrilling rides (Mummy, Battlestar Galactica) and going for them again and again.. Now I need something scarier (i.e. T Express which has a descent of 77 degrees at Everland, South Korea). I went for that once.. And I need to go for it again ’cause I need that adrenaline rush yo~~

IMG_0346(2)Attending the first K-Pop concert in my life with Sharlene… After going for only Click Five and Kyle Patrick concerts!

MAF

Belated Mid-Autumn Festival celebration with the Thunder Buddies and we met Nat Ho by chance!

With that, I’m bidding farewell to 2012 and hello to 2013.

Photo on 22-12-12 at 10.47 PM #5 copyThat’s me literally leaping into the New Year.

Kkthxbye.

( . )( . ) > Dedicated to the douche who googled ‘singapore boobs’ and arrived at my blog.

Europe in Instagram

So before leaving Singapore, I was still feeling all, “Wow, this feels so surreal. I’m actually going to Europe?” And during the plane ride, I was still asking myself, “W-ait, you’re on a plane???” With all the 7-hour flights, with a transit at Dubai in between, we finally arrived in Rome, Italy, 10pm (4am SG time).

Thankfully, I wasn’t hit by any severe jet lag and I was ready to explore Rome! The breakfast in the Italian hotels for the first few nights, really sucked. I was getting so sick of it by Day 3. It was just scrambled eggs, bacon, bread (as hard as rocks), juice and coffee on repeat.

I know my eye bags beg to differ but I had a good 7-hour sleep!

And well, first stop, Vatican City!

Outside the St. Peter’s Basilica

That’s the balcony where the Pope comes out to bless the people during special occasions, such as Easter Day and Christmas.

When I stepped into the basilica, I was simply awe-struck. The place was huge, and it was made to look like the Latin cross. It contained Michelangelo’s renowned work, Pieta, which was well-protected behind a huge glass panel. The crazy thing about this place is that the images you see on the ceilings of the various domes, and on the walls, they are not hand-painted. They are mosaics, carefully formed and pieced together using gold and other precious stones and minerals. Boy, this place must be extremely expensive and heavy. And yes, bodies of the previous Popes that have passed on are also preserved and placed in the basilica.

It was a pity that we didn’t get to visit the Sistine chapel, but just outside the basilica, we had our first gelato in Europe. They’ve got really funky flavours, and coupled with all the Italian names, they sounded so exotic. We tried out nocciola (hazelnut) and some other weird-flavour. Not exactly sure that the gelato place sold the nicest nocciola gelato because we only tried that flavour once. It had an extremely strong Ferrero Rocher taste to it, but… I still prefer popping those waffle balls into my mouth any time.

We left Vatican City and headed straight on to the Colosseum. Boy, it’s so old, and crumbly but it is beautiful. Lots of people were queuing to get in (average queuing time: 2 hours), so we skipped that and just walked along the exterior of the entire structure. I must say, it’s the size that kinda throws you off your feet (As well as the strong winds during the early Summer of the year). I was walking past it and thinking, “Man, how does it stand for such a long time and not crumble into a heap of dust?” But really, it was majestic.

We went to the Trevi Fountain, which is the largest Baroque-style fountain. Made a little wish (shhh), and by tossing a coin, with my right hand over my left shoulder. That place, was crazy. Full of tourists, and possibly pickpockets. We had to squeeze through tonnes of people, climb unglamly up and down the stairs to get to the base of the fountain. Simply, insane.

Had gelato, again!

Geek chic (Self-proclaimed HAHA)

Accessories for the day!

Day 2 as we long-distance coach (LDC) to Pisa!

Cheap but good expresso shots at their rest stations.

I think Europeans (or generally Westerners) are crazy about Nutella. This Nutella snack and drink, and giant Nutella tubs can be found everywhere. Insane!

Beebee snuggling in my jacket for some warmth ^u^!

Beebee loves road trips!

And we arrived! 3 beautiful structures, namely the Baptistery, Duomo and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, peeking through at the back.

The silly things that people do with the Pisa.

 For most of the scenic sights we went to, we took just exterior shots because getting into these famous places would either cost a sum of money, or require long waiting hours.

And we left to head towards Florence, which was in the Tuscany region.

We met up with our guide who brought us to see the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral. At the start, the cathedrals/churches/basilicas were all very breathtaking because so much effort was put into the entire architecture & structure. The detailed carvings, sculptures that can be seen as well as the various styles, mostly Gothic, if not Baroque.. But after a while, they kind of started to get boring (at least by the time we got to London)..

While walking around Piazza della Signoria, we were marvelled by the number of sculptures in the plaza and people were just gathering around them, chatting. And of course, what’s better was David, though it was the replica. Sadly, the tour was a little rushed and we could only catch a short glimpse of the Ponte Vecchio, a bridge whereby lovers would write their love on locks and lock to the bridge. Doubt any of it is true because everyone does these kind of silly things in so many places!

Interesting Smurfy marshmallows

After a night’s rest in Florence, we LDC once more to the outskirts and took a tronchetto into Venice! As Venice’s only form of transportation is via boats, they have got water buses and water taxis, and of course, the Gondola, to bring people in, out and around the place. There are absolutely no roads, just canals, and bridges to bring people from one little island to another! The entire city is supported by a floating platform, and Venice is currently still sinking.

Breathtaking view of the St Mark’s Square which was just in front of the St Mark’s Basilica as well as the Doge’s Palace (which was all pretty and pink /bimbo/).

Throughout the entire trip, the Basilica in Venice impressed me the most. Or maybe the guide did a really great job in explaining how the ceilings and walls were made, which made it sound even more impressive. The floors within the Basilica were uneven, due to Venice’s unique characteristic, as well as her buildings being very flexible. The tiles on each floor were carefully measured and cut and the stones had to be imported into Venice via… Ships! Talk about tedious! The patterns, colours and designs that were chosen to be placed on the floor were made to represent mathematical symbols and more from the Bible. The entire interior of the Basilica was just covered in mosaics (except for the columns, which were there for decorative purposes, and the pillars, the actual ones doing the job of supporting the structure), and the different stones used fit each other perfectly. So these ancient architects were not just great architects but mathematicians as well! (Sounds so intriguing wtf) Only the ceilings had mosaics made of 24k gold and coloured glass, on Biblical stories, because if they were on the floor, they would be trampled on.

True, makes a buttload of sense.

The thing about these places is that, yes, they are beautiful. But when you think deeply again, was there really a need to go to such an extent, such great extravagance, to paint a beautiful story of the Bible? And then I start feeling all skeptical. Yes, maybe for their wants to glorify their love and passion for God, but isn’t it a bit too extreme (And a waste of resources lol). And this Basilica is just so heavy that it’s weighing down on the foundation of Venice.

/shrugs in skepticism/

A peek into the canal (That’s a bank on the left)

In Italy, Austria, France etc., old facades are maintained to keep the rustic look and feel in the various cities. However, the interior can be changed entirely to look super modern.

Taking the gondola.. And yes, the canals do stink, a lot.

Squid ink pasta for dinner

*Sidenote: Lunch in Venice was the best Italian meal I’ve ever had. The seafood pasta was just beyond awesomeness, the flavour, the garnishing, the generosity in the amount of clams, mussels, prawns and squid they gave.

Kind of liked the geeky look a little too much..

The weather in Italy was so good! Super cooling, windy and I liked how it allowed me to play around with my wardrobe in ways I would never be able to do in Singapore. I could do so much layering! Like in this photo, I’m wearing a 3/4 sleeved knitted red blouse, with a nude cardigan. And if I’m still feeling cold, I would throw my H&M birdy scarf. Plus, a scarf can be worn in so many different ways, so it was just so versatile and I could look slightly different everyday while wearing the same item! Mad loves!

We had an extra day and did an optional tour in Verona!

Romeo & Juliet originated from Verona, hence that’s the supposed Juliet’s balcony. /hums to Love Story/

Just below, there’s a bronze statue of Juliet and it’s said that if you touch her right breast, you’ll get good luck. Hence, only her right boob is gleaming in full glory…

And… We got to Innsbruck, Austria after that. I must say it’s one of my favourite countries during the trip! The place was clean, except for a really huge pile of horse dung but other than that, the streets were litter free! The air was fresh, the roads were quiet but not in the creepy way. The problem though was that the shops were closed at about 430/5pm. Really lazy huh. But they do open really early, at about 830/9. Guess they believe in 早睡早起身體好.

Love the buildings in Austria! They were really simple but the colours used were just so pretty and they matched one another so well! Like green, turquoise, pale yellow, pink, etc.! So many pink buildings!! And some would have pretty murals on the walls as well!

The Swiss Alps could be seen clearly from where we were staying and it felt so surreal! I kept commenting on how we were like in a movie set-up, because everything felt so unrealistic! And the snow-capped mountains just looked so similar to a poster backdrop!

Momo and I striking a pose in the Swarovski shop.

We have the same big nose.. 😦

 Love doing up my scarf in the criss-cross way!

We had a short stopover in a small country, Liechtenstein, in the city of Vaduz, while we were on our way to Switzerland!

The Prince of Liechtenstein lives up in that castle on the mountains!

A sculpture that was done by Botero. Yes, see the similarity in the rounded form of the lady, to the fat bird sculpture that we have in Singapore? I wonder why do her boobs look so weird though…

Up early in the morning, as we head out to explore Lucerne, Switzerland. Through this trip, I actually got quite interested in European history, and you start to see how these countries are linked intrinsically together, or maybe I’m just very suaku because I’m not a History student! I love how art and history just tie in so closely and they give a more vivid picture to the boring historical details!

EAT ALL THE BACON IN THE WORLDDDDDDD!!!

Beautiful glacier lake!

We are going to go up the mountains!

Going up Mount Titlis, via 3 modes of transportation – Gondola, Cable Car & Rotair.

Up, up here we go, oh~

Chunks and chunks of never-ending snow!

It was my first encounter with snow and it was just beautiful! I was tempted to shove a ball of snow into my mouth like how Tabi did during the filming of The North Face CF HAHA but it’s so dirty!

I had a snowball fight with my family and we attempted at making a snowman, which of course, failed terribly! We also slid down snow and got our butts wet but it was so fun!!

I’m a Yeti~ (Looking chubby under 4 layers of clothing!)

We had Mövenpick ice-cream, though not out in the freezing cold. This Swiss brand of ice-cream is seriously one of the best ice-creams ever. Crazily expensive in both Switzerland and Singapore. But it was so good. I had to get Mango Cream because it’s so yummy, with juicy mango bits. And the Swiss Chocolate was so unforgettable too!

Swans hanging out in the lake.

The Chapel Bridge, that was rebuilt after it was burnt down by a fire in 1993. It contains Biblical narratives on the wooden boards under the roof.

We kind of got quite sick of the same ol’ breakfast every single morning and so I got to cook my Nongshim Kimchi Ramyun! But I did not have a slice of cheese with me. What a pity!

T’was a breezy morning as we had a short stopover at Rhine Falls, the largest waterfall in Europe, where the water comes from….*deng deng deng*… Rhine River.

Got a cute little Hello Kitty foam fan with a candy at the bottom, hehe.

We moved on to Germany and had lunch near Lake Titisee at Black Forest. The trees in the background are so densely packed.. Hence, the name Black Forest (I guess..??)

I wanted to take a photo with this cute waiter.. Who looked slightly younger than I do.. He had these large round puppy eyes, with shaggy blonde hair, just really adorable and dorky looking. But the mum had to exclaim so loudly that I was so embarrassed and went away…..

Pretty flowers everywhere~

My brother rarely takes photos of me (Or rather, anyone)… So I had to camwhore on my own, damn.

View of Lake Titisee with the crazily dense forest in the background.

Pretty flowers everywhere, near our hotel.

When in London, I saw some beautiful flowers, in different shades of pinks on one side, and purples on another side. I excitedly went up close, trying to take a shot of them… And a bee flew out and chased after me.. 😦 A ladybug got onto my shirt somewhere else too.. Why so unlucky..?

After a night’s rest, we made a stop at Cologne, the 4th largest city in Germany! Here’s a gothic style cathedral made out of sandstone. No, it’s not gothic because it’s black. A Gothic-style church has a very distinct style as there will be many sculptures of people on the exterior columns (it can be quite scary), unlike a Baroque-style church, which doesn’t have such features. It’s black because of the amount of dust accumulated, and I think they claim to want to leave it in the most natural state. Though I think they’re just plain lazy because if they were to clean it, there will be endless tiny crooks and nooks to clean, thanks to the insane amount of details not just from the overall structure but from the sculptures themselves.

Love the tall arched ceilings within the cathedral.

Our lunch! Omnomnom. We had dessert first before our proper meal of Cream of Asparagus and Club Sandwich :B

We moved on quickly to Holland/Netherlands, and visited a cheese and clog factory! In there, we knew how unprocessed cheese was made and that such cheese has got absolutely no expiry date! It can be left out in the room temperature and need not be kept in the fridge! Amazing right! Except I’m not a fan of cheese..

The person who gave the talk was hilarious, and he always exclaim that Singaporean men are ‘humsup’ (pervert). At the end, when we were looking at souvenirs, he came over and pulled me to a corner to take a photo together and I exclaimed, “You are the humsup one!!” Hahaha! He asked me to put our photo as my FB profile picture to make my boyfriend (if any) jealous. I shall grant his wish and put it for one day. But that’s not the point. He placed a pair of beautifully painted clog shoes in my hands and… My brother did not take my hands at all in the picture /clobbers his head in exasperation/….

Sadly.. There aren’t many windmills left in Holland..

In Holland, people are encouraged to cycle instead of drive.. And yes, there is a multi-storey bicyclepark, filled with uncountable number of bicycles.

Taking the Lovers’ Cruise along the canals in Amsterdam.

There were many boathouses that were simply just breathtaking. I wonder what’s it like to live on the water, except the houses are pretty small, and they are so expensive!

The houses in Amsterdam have got their own beauty. They are very narrow but long. Some houses tilt forward and sideways too! And one of the houses, was the house where Anne Frank lived, while her family were escaping from the Nazis.

We made a stop at the Gassan diamond factory and holy, that is a 121 Gassan-cut diamond. So purdy right, but what’s the use of a diamond anyway, except to cut another diamond and to look good?

We had an optional tour to Volendam, a little fishing village in Holland, and look at the endless North Sea! We spoke to a resident there and he says that during the winter, the sea will freeze and they would walk on the thick layer of ice to a market, somewhere 2km off. Insane! What if the ice dramatically splits apart and they are stranded in the middle of nowhere?!

Volendam has a very peaceful and scenic vibe to it, almost like a retirement village. There were mostly elderly living in this area, and I think it’s a good way to enjoy life.. Just sitting outside your door step, looking at the endless sea.. Life sounds quite good eh? Except you’ll freeze your butt off in the winter.

 There were so many cute little Miffy items, that were just tempting me so much. I used to love Miffy a lot when I was younger! The creator of Miffy is from Holland… Hence it’s still pretty popular there. ^(˙ x ˙)^
Look at all the pink!

We head back into the city later in the afternoon to explore the city of Amsterdam. Holland is a beautiful place but Amsterdam just feels so (unexplainable). Weed can be bought easily by people with a pass stating that they smoke it. Tourists used to be able to buy them from coffeeshops (which is the name for places selling cannabis) but not now, since it is being controlled. Cafes sell coffee. Coffeeshops sell weed. We kept walking past the area, trying to take a whiff and recognise the smell of weed.. And honestly, I still have got no idea how it smells like.

We took a mini tour around the red-light district as well, where prostitutes would stand in their little space, which is a glass window/door. If the curtains are drawn, it means they are currently working (ahem) or they are not in for work. If you can look into the glass, it just means they are open for business. Kinda shock to see a young girl, who looked like she was still studying, to be in that profession. Yes, Amsterdam is one of the cities whereby prostitution is legal. Prostitution is an ‘honourable’ (Not sure if that’s the right word?) profession. They have got rights, just like any other worker.

It was a pity but we only had a short few hours of stopover at Brussels, Belgium. This is the Atomium, consisting of 9 balls, connected by elevators! Looks so impressive eh!

Quick drive past the Bourse Business District as well as City Hall

Absolutely love the fancy vintagey decor of the buildings in Europe. In the Grand Place there was a mixture of Baroque and Gothic buildings! So many immaculate details put into their structures.

And of course in Belgium, the Manneken Pis is a must-see attraction! Rumour has it that this young little boy saved the country from being bombed as he peed over a fire which was about to ignite a row of explosives (?)

We hastily moved on into a long drive to Paris! Managed to capture a snapshot of the bottom of the Eiffel Tower while driving past it.

Glassy interior of our hotel, Evergreen Laurel

At 9pm, we took the River Seine cruise, which brings us through endless number of bridges that were so different in styles. Some were just really old concrete bridges, some were modern and metal. Paris is just, so, unpredictable?

Some of the pretty buildings that we cruised past by. In most of the European countries that we went to, at 930pm, the sky would still be bright, somewhat like a 630pm evening sky in Singapore. So I guess, you don’t feel tired that easily and because there is light present, you kind of feel slightly safer as well?

At 11pm, we managed to catch the Eiffel Tower blinking lights display in all its full glory and gosh, it was bloody brilliant! It added a touch of magnificence and elegance to the entire metallic structure! It was such a a pity that we missed it while cruising and managed to only catch glimpses of it while on the way back to the hotel!

On our second day in Paris, we took a city tour around the area! So this is the Arc de Triomphe that was ordered to build by Napoleon I. On one of the pillars, there is a sculpture of Napoleon being crowned the King, when in fact, he snatched the crown hastily away from the Pope, who was unwilling to crown him King. Oh the irony, *dengdeng*, Napoleon died before the completion of the arc.

And…. This is one of the reasons why I absolutely hate the traffic in Paris, which is probably the greatest pet peeve I have of the city, hence this makes me really dislike Paris (because I had to endure my pee during a 1.5 hour traffic jam, during the 7km back to the hotel which would have probably taken only 15 minutes). Around this arc, there are 12 roads leading right up to it. So yes, 12 lanes of vehicles heading to this circle, and then they’ll start cutting each other ruthlessly, unwilling to give way because they all feel that they have the right of way, and they can cut out any way and time they want/like to go into other roads. You need to be extremely skillful and gutsy (and probably with the right amount of luck) to get out of this hellhole safely.

The thing about European countries is that, they try their very best to maintain the old building structures and facades, but there are impractical costs in preserving all this beauty. The roads in Paris are laid with little bumpy tiles instead of the nice bitumen roads we have in Singapore, hence there is bound to be lots of friction between the car wheels and the ground.. Probably means they have to change their wheels frequently… Unless they don’t give two hoots.. And drive around with wheels that probably have less grip.. As if driving in Paris isn’t scary enough.

Other than that, the unsettled feeling that you’ll might meet a pickpocket or robber, plus litter and dog poo along the pavements of Paris is just, a huge turn off.

We only managed to capture the Eiffel Tower from a distance, on a hazy day.. I guess, we just didn’t get to see how much it has rusted. I have been forewarned of many black people (illegal immigrants) who would pursue you endlessly to get you to buy souvenirs and items..

There are many illegal immigrants, especially in Italy and Paris.. And those who have a good heart, try to make money out of selling souvenirs etc. The bad (and lazy) ones, choose the easier option of robbing and stealing… Well, what can I say, but that it’s unsafe.. Especially with the EU countries being Schengen states, these illegal immigrants can easily cross borders into other countries once they have arrived into the European countries…

Well, we didn’t manage to go up the Eiffel Tower as only 1 lift was being used (average queuing time: 4 hours), so we headed up the Montparnasse instead… And thank god we made that decision. It was too hazy to see a single shit.. Going up the Eiffel Tower would have only wasted our time.

When in Paris, one thing that absolutely cannot be missed out would be a trip to the Musee du Louvre (Louvre Museum)! It contains so many artworks that it was such a breath taking experience. Countless of paintings, in extremely large scale, and endless sculptures filling up a room, and the different themes that the museum (a former palace) contains. Of course, we saw the Mona Lisa, which was very small.. Not that I didn’t expect it, since we’ve learnt about it before in SOVA.. And I honestly don’t see the beauty in it.. I still very much prefer Delacroix’s ‘Liberty Leading the People’. I think it’s really beautiful.. And through the guide, I learnt how to pronounce ‘Ingres’. So tremendously difficult. It sounded so nasal, and at the same time vulgar, like you’re collecting a pool of spit at the back of your throat and getting ready to spit it out.

Venus de Milo (Aphrodite of Milo), mee-low, not my-low. Hehe..

The inverted glass prism in the museum.

In the night, only my family headed to the north of Paris (Supposedly very unsafe, plus it’s a red-light district) to catch the cabaret performance at Moulin Rouge. And mamma mia! May I say that it was splendid!

Though I did not understand a single French word that they sang, but I was held in awe by the costume array, the stage set up, the professionalism present in every single performer. Though the ladies had to bare their chests and butts, they danced as if it was nothing, like it was part of the costume, and after a few dances, you kind of get used to their bodies, and it wasn’t like naked in a way.. Until they covered up for like 2 dances.. And it felt kinda weird. But you gotta love the confidence they exude as they executed every single movement with perfection. The costumes were so elaborate, all glitzy-glam, with funky headgear. The stage set up was so good, there was even a giant water tank and a performer was dancing and swimming with huge boa constrictors.

For many days, I had a severe case of uneven eyes, and it was even worse when I smiled.. I think the eyeliner helped a bit :/

Our last day in Paris was spent entirely on shopping and we took the Metro from Point de Levallois to Opera. So.. We arrived at the Galeries Lafayette, which was a giant mall, selling lots of branded stuff…

I honestly.. Wasn’t interested in Louis Vuitton.. And I was ‘abandoned’ by my family, damn. So in all my pent-up frustration, I went shopping alone and was so glad I did. I found Bershka in a hidden corner and grabbed clothes like I owned the place and tried them on. Absolutely loved it I swear. The clothes were so affordable, and I can’t wait to wear them soon! Too bad the pink blazer didn’t have a size bigger.. It was so pretty!

Finally.. On the next day, we took the Eurostar and embarked on our journey to London.. When I arrived, in all my grogginess, I realised that we were at King’s Cross. /bites my fist hard/ It felt so surreal, in my mind, I was like /puts on a British accent/ ‘Oh bloody hell, we are in the land of Harry Potter!’

A typical telephone booth! /thinks about the scene when Harry and Mr Weasley entered the Ministry of Museum via a phone booth/

Exciting enough!?!? Now I want to flush myself down a toilet bowl to see if it works as well.

Huge billboard for the Les Miserables musical. I was so in awe when I saw how there were posters for all sorts of musicals EVERYWHERE. Like in the London Underground, along the streets, everywhere. They had Wicked, Singin’ In the Rain, and so many more! One of them even starred Imelda Staunton!! /cues Dolores Umbridge in her little pink outfit and annoying little voice/

We had a really short city tour around London.. And yes, one of the cathedrals.. Of which we were bored by then, so we did some shopping in Marks & Spencers.. And bought Penny Pigs!! Yes, Percy Pigs.. But better! Because they are lemon-flavoured!!

M&S is a really huge thing in England. When in Singapore, I’m all ‘wtf why are they selling clothes don’t they just sell yummy food’. And when I’m in London, M&S is super huge and they sell so many clothes, I can’t even imagine, so when I see a giant M&S food supermart, I actually feel quite weird.

Tower of London (This bridge is super impressive eh!)

The Big Ben, and part of the London Eye! Seriously too beautiful.

This is a shopping mall! Selfridge @ Oxford Street/Road. I love how they kept the exterior and inside looks entirely new and modern. But the grandeur of it all, the statue, the tall columns, the mall just looks so majestic!

Second day in London was all free and easy, so we decided to explore the city via their London Underground, which is *ahem* mother-&#*^ing expensive. £17.40 for 4 one-way tickets for 4 train stops! Insane! /mimics Ron Weasley’s accent/ Bloody hell! Harrods was another impressive mall! Throngs of people will loitering outside the mall before it even opened! I don’t know if it’s like that all the time or only because the Diamond Jubilee was approaching..

And yes, we didn’t know there was going to be a huge event. A stage was set up right outside the Buckingham Palace and the Queen was in the palace at the point of time when we were just outside (:O!!!). The British flag was hung up everywhere in full glory, Harrods had the Queen’s face everywhere with lots of designer crowns adorning the window showcase spaces, M&S was selling British themed panties for like 4 for £5. Of course I had to get them (Which is why, everything I bought during this trip, are blue)! Now they are hanging in my house, like national flag, y’know? Just kidding.

Final photo with a giant shoe in Selfridge before I left London. So purdy.

I am so glad to have been able to go on this trip. It was such an eye-opening experience, and I’ve learnt so much about the different cultures and histories. I loved how scenic the long road-trips could be, despite being smelly at times (cow dung). I really admire all the past architectures and sculptors for their patience and eye for details to carve out and plan such nitty-gritty patterns etc. /salutes/

I kinda miss the long airplane flights, where I got to watch so many movies. Tangled, Up, Monsters, Inc., Ratatouille, Footloose, Never Ending Story and The Vow. I was seriously tearing up and trying so hard not to let anyone see my tears while watching those wonderful Pixar movies, which of course, never fail to touch me so deeply. NES was really interesting unlike most typical movies, Footloose could do better, though the leading lady was insanely hot with her pale blue eyes and The Vow, sucked. So much. I love you Rachel McAdams but you gotta admit it was so, boring. And I’m a sucker for romantic movies.

I hope that one day, I will find my way back to this post and refresh all the beautiful memories that have carved a deep smile in my heart and laugh at my own silliness.

Europe was beautiful. Till then.

When in Rome

It’s only been 3 days in Italy and I must say it’s a very beautiful city, albeit a little old and dangerous (the way people drive is just a whole new experience).

Unlike the cosmopolitan outlook Singapore has, the earthy tones of the buildings here, due to no changes made to the original colours of the materials being used, are very beautiful. Maybe there is a lack of diversity in their infrastructure as the buildings are very squarish, and huge churches or balisicas have a giant dome, but the buildings just have a way of taking your breath away.

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All the little details that are carved and sculpted, the magnificent statues that can be seen in the various Piazzas, the largest baroque style Trevi Fountain etc, it makes you wonder how much effort and time has been put into the making of these buildings/artifacts.

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As much as I dislike SOVA, I’m extremely thankful to have retained part of what I have learnt as it has helped me greatly in understanding their artworks, arts scene and culture so much better!

Till next time.