Monday, April 14, 2014

Le Carved City: Paris trip part i

I'd always wanted to visit Paris, after I'd seen a scene in a cartoon show take place by the Eiffel tower back in the days when I watched cartoon shows. I know this probably sounds cliché, but I wanted to see the place for myself. So with the money I'd saved up from working part-time, my boyfriend and I bought ourselves flight tickets and searched for a budget hotel to stay in. It had seemed like the days we were going to be travelling were still so far away, but it came faster than we'd expected, as time always does. Soon, we were a few days from it, researching places to visit and packing our bags. I think I'm learning to travel light; we only brought along a small cabin luggage and a sling bag among us and it was more than enough. 

It didn't all start very well, kicking off with a flight delay that only meant we lost more hours alongside the time difference. We had an overpriced yet measly lunch at the airport and shared a cup of coffee before I fell asleep. I had a leaky nose and the sniffles, and by that night, I felt so worn out I was so afraid I wouldn't be well enough to walk the next day, but thankfully I woke up feeling much better than the day before. 

Bus ride from the airport. 

Then there was also the worst experience of the trip just a few hours in our arrival at the new city. As we reached the bottom of the stairs after seeing the basilica, a few black guys came to use with some of that colourful string another had as well when he approached us before we went up the stairs. This time, they were more insistent. Attempting to calm us by saying 'don't be scared, don't be scared', the blocked us from walking away and hooked the string on each of our fingers. I knew nothing good was going to come out of this, but I didn't know how to leave too in that moment. They chattered, asking our names and where we were from, to which I just kept silent throughout and never replied, while twisting some braid with the string hooked to my finger. When they were done, they tied the some sort of bracelet around my wrist and tried to turn Wenkai and me away from each other but I made sure I kept my eye on him in case they tried to do anything funny to any of us. Then they demanded money from Wenkai, lying and saying that they would give him change for a 20euro bill. I don't know why he handed it to them, but then they left, satisfied with their success in swindling us. 

There was nothing left we could do except to head off. I was so mad, that a few steps later, I struggled to wrench that stupid string bracelet off my hand. It left me with a sore wrist, but I tossed the wretched thing aside on the street. It was the first place we had visited and I had to leave in such anger, making me feel even less well. We had a simple dinner at a kebab place because we could find no other, where I had some pretty good savoury crepe and then headed back to our hotel. 

I don't think it's very pleasant when the thing that others choose to constantly remind you is to be careful of pickpockets before you visit a place, and that was what everyone did when they found out that I was visiting Paris. On that first day, I was filled with so much fear, even when I was not in the Metro but just thinking about how I had to be careful and guard my pockets. 

On the second day, I decided that it wasn't the way to live or travel. That is, in fear. I decided that yes, I was going to be careful with my pockets, but I also wasn't going to allow fear and one bad experience ruin the whole trip for me. It also took me a few days, but I cooled myself down by telling myself that those people who ripped us off with the money probably needed it more than we did, and it was then only did I find peace with that incident. 

The city from the top of Eiffel tower. 

Train ride to Chateau Versailles.

My favourite room in Versailles which was filled with chandeliers.

A wild flower Wenkai plucked for me.

Feathery friends roaming the palace grounds. 

Spotting the Eiffel tower from street corners. 
(the photo above, and the first photo in this post, are four photos stitched together)

When Wenkai went on and on about how we'll have to eat escargots when we were in France, I'd always crinkled up my face and never imagined that I would even touch them. But after I spotted them on the starters section of the menu and we ordered them, they came, smelling like garlic bread and my hand mechanically picked one up. They had a texture like some shell fish, and I loved the marinade they were cooked it so almost half of the plate above was finished by me. 

Savouring escargots, which I surprisingly have developed a liking for.

I think it's a European thing, where they can only give you tea when you ask for hot water. 

Sometimes, a big group of children would come onto a carriage that we were in, bringing along an orchestra of chatters. This little girl had wide-set eyes but when she smiled, it was really sweet. 

Wenkai writing postcards to his family on the little bedside table in the little room we stayed in. 

I like how there seems to be a list of people I know I have to send postcards to each time I travel, and that most of them are always the same. I bought 10 postcards this time, two which Wenkai took, and headed to the post office to purchase stamps but everything was in French so I fumbled around the place attempting the machines and having to google how much it costs to send an international postcard with a very weak free wifi signal we could get there if we stepped out of the building, before queueing at the wrong counter waiting for two people before me who were taking quite long and realising that it was another counter that I needed to go to. I think I hardly spoke in Paris, apart from talking to Wenkai, of course. And it was with a handful of English words that I bought ten stamps with, and thinking later that I'd probably bought too many and that I wouldn't use all of them but ended up wishing I had more postcards to send to a couple more people. Haha, oh well. These pictures are for you if you didn't get a postcard :)

Ps. I uploaded quite a lot of my iPhone photos to instagram, so if you haven't seen them, check them out here! Give me a little follow if you like my photos there :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

the destruction of a seed

I haven't been writing much at all lately, not just here, but in my general life. I've just been thinking a lot to myself how terrifying it is to realise that we change, and that I'm not sure how to pin down decisions because if there is one thing I've learnt, it's that despite knowing so many things and myself so well back then, I did not know how and towards where I would change. I'm not sure though, did I think that I would stay the same?

I knew that I would grow. In taste, especially, as I try to direct my work into higher directions. But I've also been thinking a lot about where to direct myself further into life. As I was writing this, I pondered on deciding upon a right path to take, then realised that, What if there is no path? What if we're just wading through fields of green wavering leaves and kicking through sand crossing deserts and splashing through puddles? Isn't it more natural to follow our own steps through each tick of time, instead of what society has expected of us to live (go to school, graduate, get a job, get married, having kids, work work work till it's time to retire and die). Why has it become so difficult to not follow that?

I'll be graduating from a university degree in a much shorter time than my mind has me to believe. I don't think it has fully sunk into me yet, although it's mostly because of the reasons I'd chosen to go to university that were different than so many others. I have been thinking of ending so many things, things that drains my soul more than it refuels it. I've been considering potential alternate futures, attempting to weigh up the quality of life and love they have in them. Because despite all expectations, leaping straight into a job after graduation somehow seems like going in the wrong direction for me.

I can't remember why I started writing this post. There's been the concept of a quote repeating itself in my mind, about how it appears to be complete destruction when a seed splits to sprout forth new life, when the truth is in fact quite the very opposite of what it appears to be.

Anyway, I would like to stand to the believe I've had for a long time about how everything happens for a reason so there is no use for regrets. I suppose that it is to allow your faith to be the biggest picture, so much that all fear is lost within it as vivid colours.

my love among spring blooms.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

London diary: part i

Big Ben, tourists and a christmas tree as seen from Trafalgar Square.

I edited these photos and now write this with a soft longing in my heart. This London trip has been so  good to me, and I surprised myself with the realisation that I want to be back among those rainbow crowds in one of the biggest capital cities in the world –because I'm usually not a fan of crowds at all. But to be in London is to be among crowds in a way that it seems to be tied in with the city's personality. 

I suppose I'll start with an explanation. There are friends and people in London that I would love to meet up with, so if you're one of them and you're reading this, I did not this particular time because it was a personal trip I took with my boyfriend and we had made our own plans. I would, however, be more than willing to do so the next time I visit as there are faces I haven't seen in ages and miss dearly. And now I shall start with my memories. 


We woke up early on boxing day morning, the cab already called for the evening before. And when I say early, I mean less than four hours past midnight. Our eyes were unusually wide for such an hour, but we were excited for our first flight together and for me, the first trip that I would pay fully out of my own earnings. 

The taxi took us along the long, empty, early morning roads that had frosted up from the night before as I stared out and occasionally chatted to Wenkai. It was only when we were inside the airport and realised that we were more than an hour early that drowsiness hit me and I lay my head down on Wenkai's shoulder, eyes shut but not being able to fully sleep. Music played through the overhead speakers and I thought they sounded overly cheerful as I half-watched a lady drawing the shutter doors to open a souvenir shop in that tiny, dim airport. 

Drenched pigeon.

I don't remember much of us boarding the plane, but we go about with such ease like we've flown together all our lives and soon we are landing on Gatwick's runway and I look out and see a pretty incredible sunrise. I remember how sunrises always fool me into thinking that getting up early was worth it. 

We catch the bus that would take us to the city centre and as much as I want to, I don't allow myself to sleep during the ride as my eyes insist on staring out of the square I wiped clean on the fogged up window to see the scenery we are travelling past. I say to London in my head that it looks lovely today and that I'm glad to see it. It smiles back in sun rays to me. 

When we arrive in the city, we meet up with Wenkai's friends, one of whom we were going to stay with, and we go for Malaysian food which we have been missing. The food at the restaurant we go to is quite authentic and we pay somewhat around ten times the amount we would pay back home. I don't take much photos with my camera, only some with my iPhone, as I see the place with my own eyes first. However, I join in the conversation occasionally and it pleases me to realise that I can get along pretty well with his friends as well. They later insist on taking my bag for me, which was one of the first of many kindness they would later show that I am so very grateful for. 

I soon find it funny how people always say how much rougher and ruder and more impatient people from bigger cities like London are because the people I meet have been so much friendlier than what everyone always describes. I start photographing strangers I find interesting in the tube, finding it a lot easier using my phone. We see so many different kinds of people all the time. There was a row of strangers reading and later a man who had to hold his bouquet of flowers high above the crowd's heads as everyone jammed in on a very busy line. 

We visited the National Gallery again, and I was observing the way light fell and lit the subjects in the paintings at first as well as the compositions, but then later moved on to observe the expressions of the subjects as I realised how well they were captured. We didn't get to visit the inside of Westminster Abbey which I had wanted to show to Wenkai, but it was alright because we had to catch the 'Wicked' play. We ate sushi at a chain for lunch before heading to the theatre. 

Oh, Santa!
Trinkets at Camden market.
Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park.

This was where I decided to become a bird photographer. I thought that the texture of the water was pretty wonderful!

A few mornings later, we woke up to sunshine from the windows as it was drawn, and Wenkai's friend, Fang Yu, whom we had been staying with brought us to this park called Hampsteath Heath. There was a house called Kenwood at the grounds which one could immediately tell belonged to a rich man from the past as we queued at the front door to get in. The interiors were all grandeur, with little of the walls left empty and uncovered by paintings in large, gold frames. 

There was a library in cupcake colours –pastel blue and pink– and fine elaborate carvings which I could only wish to have someday. The curtains in the rooms hung thick and majestic, crowning the sunlight that streamed in abundantly.  

That day had also been a day of crowds. We walked past countless others, many with mud-soaked dogs who had ran through the mud, and I started to get a bit impatient when I had to wait (again!) for a clear view before I could press my camera shutter as people would just constantly walk past, oblivious to the fact that one had their camera to their eyes. I later told myself that it would have been silly to get mad at that. Cities are a place of people and all of us were here to enjoy our holidays. A little kindness (and patience, I suppose) could prevent another's day from being spoiled as well as our own.   

Nature's little light bulbs lit in the sun.

I have a few more photos to share, which I probably will in a separate post, but I'll end this here. 

I leave London, always with a little piece of it in me, knowing that it is never the last time I see this city. I will return again. 

To its hustle and bustle, the ebb and flow I seem to have been able to tune myself to. I don't even mind its crowds half as much anymore, knowing that it's just a part of its personality. I've gotten to know its rainbow veins, the underground that runs through the city's skin, providing the city with its life and energy. I have come to see it through more romanticised eyes, no longer ugly like my second trip here had made me think of it. It is fuel; there is so much fuel here and I now see how it is to feed our growth. 

London said goodbye with misty eyes.