faces and places (Jul – Sept ’15)

In the summer months, I spent a lot of time with my friends – friends whom I have gotten so used to so much so that the goodbyes are quite difficult. But that is life, we move on and away from one another. When I was younger, I used to have the illusion that if I try very hard, I will be able to keep in touch with friends that I care about and I will know every boring detail in their lives as if we are not separated by oceans. But the truth is we will eventually lose touch. I just hope I will see them again soon!


I managed to meet up with Weijie before he left London. It was a fun day in the city, we had nice food at Flat Iron, enjoyed a leisure stroll down the car-less Regent Street and had fun at the M & M store. He was pretending to be a tourist and it was pretty amusing. Can’t wait to see him again!



Watching Wimbledon has always been my dream. I attempted to queue for the tickets on the first Saturday (7 h!!) and sadly we did not manage to get in but it was fun having a little picnic and talking to fellow tennis enthusiasts. One day, I halfheartedly tried to buy the tickets online and somehow I managed to get it! I got a Center Court ticket to watch the women quarter-finals and I was so lucky to see some of the best female players in action (Serena, Azarenka and Sharapova). I was so amazed by how engrossed and disciplined the crowd was. During the point, the crowd was so quiet that I could hear the guy a couple of rows away sneezing. When the point was over, the applause was simply electrifying. It was definitely a dream come true for me, I am a lucky girl. 🙂



It was a crazy weekend, Laia came over for a visit with her sister but at the same time, I have already made an appointment with Rosa to do a picnic at Primrose Hill. I had to manage the time well. That was the first time we met since the Sweden/ Norway trip. The picnic was really enjoyable, I remember she made the sandwiches while I did a salad and we talked a bit, read a bit, slept a bit and talked again. That was a really comfortable afternoon out. 🙂


On the very same night, I went out with Laia for a funny Romeo and Juliet show at Southbank Center. It was one of the funniest things that I went for in London. We saw the advertisement for the show and we spontaneously decided to get the tickets for the show because it sounded interesting and we presumed that it was something classy. So we waited for the return tickets patiently but in the end, the show was completely not what we had expected. It was quite contemporary and it was closer to a concert with the occasional break dances than a play. It was also funny how they had this corner where we could “get married” and “be blessed” by the “priest” before the start of the show. I think it was a nice idea, it made people re-think the notion of marriage which is such an important theme in “Romeo and Juliet”. When Laia was around, we also went to see Mamma Mia (which was completely what we had expected), had very spicy Thai food and visited Greenwich.



The following weekend, I visited Laia in Hull. I was a bit sad that I accidentally destroyed my phone and lost the photos from that weekend so I could only make do with this picture of the Bempton cliff. Even though the pictures may be lost, the memories will stay. 🙂 We had a very nice Moroccan vegetarian buffet at a nice restaurant which serves cuisine from different parts of the world each night. We did a hike from Bempton to Bridlington on Saturday and unexpectedly (this word comes up really often whenever I talk about times with Laia) we had a class on sea birds at Bempton. Bempton is home to 250, 000 sea birds and there are many different kinds of sea birds at the cliffs of Bempton and we had a lot of fun trying to identify them and decide which ones we like. Puffins are the most popular and the volunteers at the different view points even set up binoculars for visitors to have a close-up view of the puffins. Gannets are the most common and it is one crazy scene to see so many birds flying around. On Sunday, it was more relaxing as we watched a movie at home and had a nice Sunday roast. 🙂



I had the most dramatic day of my time in London on the day when Aneke and Johanna arrived. I broke my mobile phone the night before and I broke my glasses on that day. I said to Estelle that I hoped that I would manage to bring the right girls home. To make matters more intensive, Chizuru also just arrived on that day and I had to somehow bring all 3 of them together. At the end of the day, I laid on my bed and there was only a single thought on my mind, “I had tried my best and that’s the best you can do.” I guess that is something I will say to myself a lot when I start to work. I had a great time with Aneke and Johanna, we were so good with our timings. We went on a Jack the Ripper tour and the Harry Potter Studios tour and because it was Aneke, we also visited the British museum. 🙂 The Jack the Ripper tour was really enlightening; it is crazy to imagine during the same period of time when the British Empire was ridiculously rich and the Queen was extravagant in her spending, people in its capital were so poor. It was also interesting that they had the notion of the the “deserving poor” and the “undeserving poor”. Funny how we don’t say it out loud these days but the notion has not changed too much, there are some people, as portrayed by the media, who deserved to be poor while others who don’t deserve to live like this. Anyway, we judge easily but we help little. The Harry Potter Studios tour was really great too, seeing is believing, it is so difficult to believe that some things that look so real in the cinema are actually fake, for instance the head of Hagrid.



Another great day in London. 🙂 This time round, Laia brought her friend Victoria to have a little tour around London. Chizuru and Adriana joined us as well so it was a really nice group. 🙂 It was a very intense walking tour, we walked from Notting Hill to Hyde Park and to Leicester Square for Chinese dinner and finally to Big Ben. I think the funniest thing that happened was we went to St Christopher Place for coffee and we were so happy that we found seats that we did not notice that 2 of us were seated on the table for one restaurant and the rest for another restaurant. So we kind of came up with a smart plan of ordering drinks from 2 restaurants while enjoying one another’s company. 🙂 I remember a lot of jokes and laughter, it was such a great time together. ❤



I helped Rosa to move home and it was quite intensive. There were many bags and many ups and downs (literally). I was so glad we managed to do so with no problem and to conclude the day, we went for a party at a town hall (!!!) at Crouch’s End and had fun dancing at the silent disco. There were 3 channels – the fast, the electronic and the romantic and it is funny how people were just dancing and singing to their own beat. It was a really nice party with different dance floors, one of the best nights out I had in London.



Laia again! We share so many great memories together. 🙂 We made a weekend trip to Peak District and that was incredibly beautiful. I found myself so lucky on the trip as well, somehow we managed to catch every train (even though we had to run for one of them) and somehow the rain only started when we got to the train station. I will miss the nice conversations about life, education and random things. 🙂 It was also funny how we somehow couldn’t follow the instructions on the maps but thankfully the more prepared English hikers were more than willing to help us. For the first walk, we took a really difficult climb up to the top and when we were almost there, this English couple said to us, “You girls certainly didn’t pick the easiest way up.” Although that was the hardest part, that was the most memorable part. Perhaps the same theory goes for life.



After I have submitted my thesis (yay!!!), I did a solo trip to Italy. I have travelled solo before in Japan for a few days so I was not too afraid. I did a little trip around Tuscany (yes I went to Italy without seeing Rome or Venice) from Pisa to Cinque Terre to Florence and finally to Bologna. I guess that is the fun part about travelling alone, you meet many interesting people, such as the old lady from Australia backpacking with her daughter, the guy from Xinjiang who studied at Bologna and the group of Japanese tourists who drew instead of taking photos to remember things.  It was really, really hot but I managed to walk to all 5 of the villages in Cinque Terre and that was so beautiful. I think Riomaggiore has one of the prettiest sunsets in the world.



The day after I got back from Italy was quite intense too. I took a walk with Estelle in Notting Hill and we ate at Churchill Arms which is definitely one of my favourite restaurants in London. Estelle is definitely a person whom I am thankful to have met in London. I felt so much like an alien for the first few months in the predominantly British lab and I was not excited to go to the lab. After she came, we talked about things that we thought were strange and I didn’t feel alone. We also had quite a bit of fun in the lab trying to understand the mysteries in the Hogwarts lab and we hung out a lot in the evenings. She is one funny girl, I miss her company.


On the same night, I went to see a Greek play at Shakespeare Globe with Yixin. It is interesting how the play attempts to bring out the relevance of the Greek tragedy in the society today. We somehow befriended a family from Canada and we got to stand pretty much at the front. It was also funny how the actors were walking through the standing crowd and some of the fake blood got onto the father of the Canadian family. After the play, we took a walk along the river and it was really nice. 🙂



I had my viva (oral examinations) in the morning. It was a bit of an adventure to get to the Hammersmith campus in the morning, I accidentally dropped my card holder which held my oyster card, bank card and student card. Luckily, when I retraced my footsteps, I found the card holder with all the cards intact. 🙂 I remember there was a traffic congestion as well so I had to brisk walk to the campus and I was really happy to have made it on time. My examiner was a big shot in the cancer research in the UK and his portfolio itself scared me to a certain extent. Thankfully for me, he was a really nice guy and he had a good opinion of me (“you think before you talk”). After my viva, I went back to Imperial College to have lunch with Chen Xue, my ex-roommate. Our fellow classmates, Yiwen and Runzhong, joined us in the end so we had a nice catch-up session for the last time. Now to think about it, all 4 of us are in 4 different countries at this point in time and I hope that they are all holding up good wherever they are. 🙂 It was also election day back in Singapore so I went back to my flat in the afternoon and skyped home. We listened to and discussed about the election results together and for that few hours, I felt like I had somehow transposed home. 🙂 In the evening, I met up with Rosa for drinks at Knowhow Special, Kentish Town (one of the more romantic places I have been in London) and had a pretty intense conversation about the meaning of life.



One weekend, I went to Munich to visit Chrissy and Stefan. They were very kind to have me over and Chrissy showed me around the city of Munich one day which is a beautiful city with a good mix of new and old. I really like Viktualienmarkt where we just had to buy beer from the store and we could bring our own food and eat there. I like the long benches in Munich because we had to sit with random strangers and it is easy to have conversations with them. I find this culture quite open and it suits me. 🙂 On Sunday, we went for Oktoberfest together after eating a traditional Weisswurst for breakfast (omg beer for breakfast!!!). It was incredibly crowded and we had a hard time looking for a table. But it was pretty fun, we drank beer with different people from the world – China, New Zealand and Spain. We drank from about noon to 7 pm and I really like the festive mood until the point when most people were drunk. On Monday, I had a look at Nuremberg before I went back to London. On the flight back to London, I was sitting next to this 60+ years old German lady who emigrated to Australia years ago. She said she was in Germany for a primary school gathering and she was happy to see her old friends but sad that some of them had already passed away. I am amazed by how she managed to keep in touch with her old friends in those days without the Internet and I hope that I do not have to wait for so many years to see my beloved friends again.



I somehow got in touch with Wincey who is a girl from Hong Kong that I knew through Anna. We realized we have rather similar personalities and it is really interesting. She is really a pretty cool person, I am so glad we got in touch again. 🙂 Once we went to have Dimsum together and on this day, we went to Richmond Park to look for deer. It was a beautiful day in London and I think it is also equally beautiful how we are connected to one another in this vast world. 🙂



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