faces and places (Apr – Jun ’17)

April was a really intense month. There were moments when I lost quite a fair share of confidence and started questioning myself and what I was doing. Sometimes I was not sure if I was capable of performing tasks necessary for my work and sometimes I just wanted to disappear. But these feelings passed eventually and the rainbow came after the storm. Over the next two months, I had sufficient space and time to think through things and re-affirm my own personal beliefs towards my field of work. To me, I believe that we are first humans then creatures of the system that we created. I believe in behaving like a sentient, thinking being and treating others as humans who deserve respect. There are many things that I still need to learn and master but as they said, “错中学, 学中做.” I will make mistakes and I will learn through the process on-the-job. One step at a time. Over the last few months, I had the good fortune of spending quality time with people who matter in my life and I am so thankful for these opportunities. Sometimes we are too focused on what we don’t have and we forget to look at what we have in our hands.

May and June were really incredible months. I managed to do a lot of things that I wanted to do, I hung out a lot with my family, I travelled quite a lot, I hung out with friends who matter to me, I did a lot of reading and importantly, I met a boy who has brought so much joy into my life. It’s funny how we have so much in common in terms of our experiences, hobbies and ideals. He can turn a bad day into a good one. 🙂

29/04/17

I did a weekend trip to Batam with my parents, grandma and my aunt to do massage and go shopping. I always wanted to do a trip with my grandma and I was quite glad that we made it happen! It was quite a busy tour organized by Weekend Go Where. There were numerous stops inside the Golden City for us to buy food products. The Javanese massage session was quite long (~2h) but it was pretty good. Here is a happy picture of us at the 3D Trick Eye Museum. It was funny how one of the staff took my camera and enthusiastically helped us take photos at the different photo stops. She even helped us to conjure positions and facial expressions. All in all, it was quite a fun experience.

05/05/17

This is another thing that I always wanted to do – Artjamming. I remember Kurinchi was really repulsed by the idea of artjamming when I first told her about it about a year ago. Thankfully, she slowly warmed up to the idea and decided to do it with it. We did our artjamming at Arteastiq at Plaza Singapura on her birthday. It was one for one if you do artjamming on your birthday so that sweetens the deal. Painting is indeed a rather strenous activity and I actually felt tired during the session. In the middle of the session, one of the waitresses came over and took our order for coffee/ tea. I envisioned myself drinking coffee slowly while contemplating on my painting. But the reality was that I just wanted to paint and I took a quick gulp of the coffee before picking up the paint brush and continue painting. Here’s a happy picture of us at the end of the session. Now the painting hangs proudly in the balcony of my apartment. 😉

11/05/17

In May, I did a two weeks’ trip to Greece. I visited Athens, Santorini, Crete, Thesaaloniki and Meteora. It was quite an adventure and there were numerous transport hiccups – plane that almost could not land, ferry strike, bus strike and missed train. But the hiccups probably enriched the experience and remind me that sometimes things just don’t go according to plan; I just need to deal with it. In Athens, I met up with Lina who was on the other Chemistry Masters programme at Imperial College London while I was there. We probably met at one of the social events at Imperial College London. We had coffee at Thisseio View which had a really good view overlooking the Acropolis. 🙂 I visited most of the tourist attractions in Athens – The Parthenon, The Temple of Zeus, The Panathenaic Stadium, The Acropolis Museum, The Archaelogical Museum and a couple of rooftop bars. It’s funny how I did this free walking tour in Athens and the guide pointed at a building and said, “This building is rather new. It was built in the 11th century.” I guess that really shows that age is relative. On one of the days, I took a day trip to Delphi and that area was so beautiful. Delphi is where pilgrims used to go to receive oracles from Apollo during the time before Christ and I guess today people are still making trips there but for different reasons.

15/05/17

I visited Santorini with Alvin and Amandas and that was possibly the highlight of the trip. I really enjoy exploring the white-washed buildings, eating good food in the taverns while admiring the blue Aegean Sea, watching gorgeous sunsets and having heart-to-heart talks at the end of the day. On the first day, we walked on the newest volcanic island in Santorini – Nea Kameni and on the second day, we did the 10 km hike from Fira to Oia and the views along the hike were simply amazing.

After our time in Santorini, Amandas and I went to Crete for 3 days. I quite like the vibes in Crete. We stayed in a family-run hotel that was metres away from the beach and it was so nice to sit on the balcony and chill. We wanted to visit the Samaria Gorge but unfortunately, it rained too much on the last couple of days and the Gorge was closed. In the end, we visited 3 small seaside towns and chilled out in the cute towns by the Aegean sea – Heraklion, Chania and Rethymno. After that, I went to Thessaloniki which seems to be quite religious. It was nice to visit the Orthodox churches, especially the ones on the hill with good views of the city. My last stop was Meteora which was located somewhere between Athens and Thessaloniki. The area has very unique rock formation with monastery at the top of some of the rocks and apparently the monks took 20 years to move the building materials up the monastery and just 10 days to build what they wanted to build after the building materials were moved up. What great determination and faith. I did a guided hike in Meteora and we saw some great views along the way! On the way back to Singapore from Athens, I had a one-day stopover at Dubai. I went up Burg Khalifa, visited the Gold and Spice Market, took the water taxi and visited the Atlantis. Dubai seems to be a place with not much city planning and multiple clusters of buildings were built in the middle of the deserts. Where is the city centre? It was also a bit too hot for me at 38 degree Celsius. But it’s nice to finally start visiting some places in Middle East; I would like to see Iran and Oman one day.

This paragraph went on longer than I thought. Here’s a happy picture of the 3 of us at the most photographed spot in Santorini. 🙂

11/06/17

In June, I made a week-long trip with Yixin to High Tatras (Slovakia), Prague (Czech Republic) and Helsinki (Finland). It was so good to see her again. When I am with her, I feel that I am playful, funny, serious, smart and outgoing – everything that I like in myself. I like how when we are with each other, we do things that we usually wouldn’t have done if we are alone. We took the Euronight train from Prague to High Tatras and it was more comfortable than I thought. On the first day, we took the cable car to Lomnický štít, the second highest peak in High Tatras. Initially, we were rather disappointed as we couldn’t see much as it was too cloudy. But when the clouds cleared, the view literally took my breath away. The glaciers were so blue and the snow-capped mountains were so beautiful. Here’s a happy picture of us at the top! On the next day, we did a hike to Zelene Pleso which was a beautiful emerald lake. What was most incredible was that there were very few people who shared the beautiful view with us. What I also like about hiking in High Tatras is the well-positioned chata (restaurant-hut) and there was one well-positioned chata next to Zelene Pleso. We had local Slovak food and drinks while enjoying the beautiful view. That was also the crazy day when we hitch-hiked. On the last day in High Tatras, we visited Slovak Paradise National Park and it was yet another experience. We had to cross rivers using tree logs and planks and climb up the gorge using ladders. Walking through the gorge was such an amazing experience, I love the waterfalls, the small caves and the beautiful rocks.

We also had some time in Prague on the next day when we visited the Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge and the Old Town with the Astronomical Clock. Prague is definitely one of my favourite European cities. I love the buildings, the statues, the underground bars and the hippie corners. I watched a classical concert in St George’s Basilica and it was quite an experience to listen to old classical music in such an old building.

17/06/17

We had almost 2 days in Helsinki before I headed back to Singapore. Saturday was quite a day. We did canoeing in Nuuksio National Park in the morning. The lake was so beautiful and pristine and I love how it reflected the trees and the clouds. In between the canoeing, we also had some cinnamon buns, cranberry juice and coffee prepared by our guide. After that, we went to have salmon soup and coffee by the waterfront in East Helsinki and it was so nice to enjoy the Finnish summer sun with good company. 🙂 In the evening, we hung out by the promenade in the city center before checking out the seal exhibition in front of the Helsinki Cathedral. We had quite some fun taking photos with the seals. At night, we went for a concert by a tribute band to The Beatles. They played many classic songs by The Beatles, including Yesterday, Don’t Let Me Down, Come Together and Hey Jude. From their music, I could really feel the rock and roll spirit and that’s something which electronic music can never replace. It was quite some fun dancing to those tunes. I’m sure it’s a day that we will both remember for a long time. 🙂

24/06/17

Mervin and I went to Pulau Besar, Johor for a short beach getaway over a weekend.  Pulau Besar is quite a rustic getaway. It is an island with only 3 resorts (full-board), white sand and clear water. 🙂 We had to brave the weekend causeway between Singapore and Johor, a 2h car ride to Mersing and a bumpy speedboat ride to Pulau Besar. We did some shore snorkeling and saw many fishes and sea urchins. I love the angel fish and the clown fish. In between our snorkeling sessions, we lazed on the beach and drank fruit juices. In the evening, we drank mojitos and then watched netflix. 🙂  It was really nice to spend time together outside of Singapore. Can’t wait to travel with him again!

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