Friday, June 30, 2006

The Great Rail Journey

Tomorrow we leave for Europe. I've been into Europe loads of times, but this time it's going to be slightly different. We're going overland all the way, using buses, trains and ferries. We're going away for 18 days now. The preliminary plan (if all goes well) goes like this:

London - Belgium - Germany - Austria - Hungary - Romania - Bulgaria - Greece - Italy

On the 18th day, we're flying from Venice to Liverpool straight.

Planning this trip has been looooong! Figuring out train times, deciding which cities we can cover in the limited time we have... Obviously, this is going to be a quick zip through all the above mentioned countries. The point is seeing Europe by rail, taking in the landscape as it passes by. The point is getting from point A to point B within the given time. This isn't a leisurely holiday, soaking in the local culture and all that bollocks. In fact, its more stressful than anything. I've spent many an hour in the last one week tearing my hair out planning this trip. I'm already tired just thinking about it, but I'm also very excited. The planned highlights are: Austrian ex-concentration camp Mauthausen, Transylvania, Greece to Italy by sea, ancient ruins of Pompeii and the romantic waterways of Venice. I hope we do this right. Will try keep things posted, as much as I can. Watch this space!


Simpler times

My parents flew down from Singapore on Tuesday morning. The night before, very conveniently, all the electricity in our flat went. Apparently, Stuart Little somewhere, chewed up some of our cables, and the stupid mouse got fried in the process, blocking the electricity flow. So for the last four days, we have been using electricity from this socket conveniently located just outside the flat. Our bathroom is lit in candles, we have 6 plug extensions snaking all across the floorboards, and decisions constantly have to be made, when choosing to sacrifice either charging our laptops or watching a DVD.

And since the washing machine clearly can't run without power, I had to go down to a laundrette today, for the first time in my life, carrying my big basket of laundry, paying 3 quid to wash them, and sitting there watching them spin away for 35mins. It was so...Friends-esque. It's actually quite entertaining watching the different cycles of a washing machine (or am i just going soft..?). Another reason why it felt quite surreal is cuz I was surrounded by Americans, and you know how friendly they are, more so in a laundrette. Even with a book in hand, I couldn't escape the clutches of the over-friendly, bored American tourist doing his washing...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

a lazy week

I've been watching alot of television. Sinful I know, but I think I deserve it. This has been the first time I've been able to PROPERLY bum around since exams finished, what with doing the work placement and everything.

I've conducted marathons in fact...Prison Break, Lost, Desperate Housewives...everything! It's the post-modern way to watch dramas. The post-modern personality is no longer capable of watching an hour of a story unfold once a week, which is why we have to watch 10 in one shot. It kills the mind, I tell you.

Anyway, this mindless time-pass won't be lasting much longer. On the side, I've been planning and preparing for the little holiday I'm treating my parents to next week. As a thank you gift for sponsoring my university education, I'm taking them on a great rail journey through Europe for 15 days. The plan is to hit Romania by Day 7 and then make our way back. I think I've sprouted a few grey hairs in the last 2-3 days booking the rail passes and trying to get everything right. More details later.

Also been getting some interesting feedback about my articles off late. One person thanking me over email, grateful that I wrote his story, and some others I hear about chucking all the papers out because they don't want anyone reading what I've written. Juicy!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


I finally booked my flights to Boston! Been putting it off for ages, thinking I should wait for a good deal, but today I decided to bite the bullet.
Soooooo - I'm leaving London on 11th September (gulp), and back to London on 13th October.
Visiting my cousin (and one of my bestest friends in the world), Nabilah, at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachussetts. I might've just graduated, but I'll be livin the uni life once again - American-style - verrrrrrry soon! :P

PS. This is also a big deal for me, being the first ever long-haul flight I'll be funding MYSELF....feel like a big girl now!

Monday, June 19, 2006


I feel like I must blog about this.

Meet Freaky.

The latest member of the flat.

Originally from Marchmont Street, she now humbly resides in Witley Court with us. We like to think we are doing our bit for the disabled world by adopting this fish.

Because, you see, she is a disabled goldfish.

Freaky here, has no control of her breath intake/outtake, causing her to frequently turn upside down because, as you can see, she is also very very......fat.

Supposedly, she was a bit of a celebrity in the fish store. Everyone always assumed she was dead, floating about upside down, but really, she just has a bit of trouble turning the big belly right side up.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Goodbye Hughes Parry

Now it really does feel like it's all over. I moved out of halls today, Hughes Parry, my home for 2 out of the last 3 years of my life. I was out all day, but when I came home in the evening, it definitely felt really out of place, not returning to halls. Not having to head home before 7pm to catch dinner served in the kitchen, and having to warm my own food in the microwave. I realised just now, besides my 6 days in Madrid, I have spent practically every single night in the last 9 months in Room 227. Even though I felt like I never got attached to it, like I did to my 1st year room in halls, I realise I feel extremely displaced sitting here in my new room in my sisters flat. It's nice to be back with family, which I have really missed, but adapting to change is bound to be disconcerting in the beginning.

The last 7 days in halls anyway, have been very strange. Everyone left a week before me, so things were eerily quiet. Not surprisingly, I made sure I didn't spend much time indoors.

Anyhow, I've been looking forward to moving back into my sisters, down the road. Missed being with family, missed having a fridge and a kitchen. Packing as usual, was an absolute confusing nightmare. Not knowing what to pack for and when. Deciding what to send back to Singapore for good. Deciding what I need here over the summer. The last one week, with friends moving out, and then me today - had made this life-change ahead of me ever more stark, and it's been an emotional few days. I'm not sure if I'm less strong than I thought, or if I'm becoming stronger than I am at present. Maybe I've been in denial, trying to stay overly optimistic about leaving London, leaving my life that I've known for 6 years. Every act while packing was laden with meaning, like, packing up my winter clothing, realising I might not need them for a long, long time.

Some pics of my room

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

If somebody offers you chicken on a yacht, take it

I have a re-discovered love for the London Bus.

My bus-pass has given me unlimited freedom to wander around this city, taking in all the sights as I go along. It's so much better than being stuck in a hot, humid underground train. It just doesn't make sense, taking the tube in the summer.

Anyway, yesterday we discovered a part of London, which I have now totally fallen in love with. It has also created in me the desire to be RICH. This may be a slight problem, with the whole...journalist thing. Hmm.

We went to Tower Hill, St. Katharines Docks, Bankside, sat by the river and had pizza, watching St. Paul's Cathedral...doing....not much really. It just stands there, after all. We took a total of 6 buses that night. Went around in circles a few times.

There were lots of people lounging about on their yachts, and one group called out to us as we passed by, and just as I'd been thinking, "I wish one of these yachts would invite us on..", some guy calls out saying, "You like chicken?!" and we just stare at him, laughing. He keeps asking, so we say no we don't like chicken, and walk on, but really, for 10mins after that I wouldn't stop moaning about why we didn't get on his yacht for some of that chicken. How dumb!

Lesson learnt: Take more risks in life. Another way of putting it: If somebody offers you chicken on a yacht, take it.

Tower Bridge as the sun sets

St. Katharine's Docks (1 side of it)

The biggest, prettiest pub I've seen.

The prettiest Starbucks I've seen!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sunday comforts

I've missed doing this. Getting up late on a Sunday, going out getting the Sunday papers and reading them front to back for a good few hours (minus the money, business and sport sections of course). In fact, the last memory I have of doing this properly was when I was still living in Baker St. with my parents. I'd go out to WH Smith, grab anything, the Observer or the Sunday Times, sit down in Coffee Republic with a nice mocha frappucino (free obviously, courtesy of working there as a barista!) and whittle away time. That was 2.5 years ago! Since uni took off, life's been so busy, during term time, and even during vacations which were mostly spent abroad, I've just lost touch with some simple pleasures I used to indulge in when I had alot more time.

Speaking of newspaper, the other day at dinner, I was observing what section of the papers people tend to go for first. I found it can really reflect what direction people are going in or want to go. Amrita and Arun picked up the business section, and I, the travel section. Although Amrita did point out that she picked up the business section first only because I was hogging the main. lol.

Which section do you go for?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Warrior journalist

Before I get too tired to note what's going on, I started a work placement yesterday. I'm doing it with a local Asian newspaper here. 'Asian' here, by the way, refers to South Asian communities, namely Indians, Pakistanis, and Bangladeshis. I started of a little unsure, a little lacking in confidence, but today was excellent. I'm already finding stories, doing phone interviews, writing up little articles and even attending news meetings. Despite the lack of salary (i.e. none) I feel like a part of the team, because I'm always busy. The others are lovely, very patient, always ready to answer my (sometimes) daft questions.

I'm taking the bus into work, instead of tubing it. It takes about 30-45mins depending on traffic, which is much more than it would on the tube - but I enjoy winding through the City, watching the big shiny buildings gleam in the sunlight. And yes, the sun is out, so no freezing knickers while waiting for a bus. Also the bus drops me right outside home/work; perfect.

The day goes super quickly. I get an hour lunch but I returned back to the office after 20mins today, I was so eager to get on with my article. I like East London, it has a different vibe. One exciting development is I've discovered a 4 star prawn mayo jacket potato opposite work. Massive potato with more prawn mayo than a girl can handle. In case you didn't know, my mum and I have been conducting the Prawn Mayo Jacket Potato Grammy's since we moved to London. So far, the best was found in a little market in Cardiff, but I continue searching for a contender.

Only my 2nd day on the job, and already it's co
nfirmed for me even more why I'm doing it. Wrote a story today on this Sikh guy who created a Sikh-history based video game. I'll publish it when it's out, but just finding out what he was doing and being able to bring his message to the world, a message of interfaith peace and understanding, something very close to my heart, was enough to put a big bounce in my step the rest of the day. His website is: to find out what his message is about.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

My very first...

... digital voice recorder/ dictaphone!!

Now, my reporter's kit is complete!


Friday, June 02, 2006

I blame Uncle Bikram

So I've started doing Bikram Yoga.

Currently on Day 2, and my shoulders and neck are killing. I'm not sure if this is meant to be happening. I know you might be wondering 'Why the hell is she doing Bikram Yoga?!' but i'll have to explain later, when I'm in less discomfort. Right now, I'm lying in bed resting, and boredom has pushed me to blog.

I'm on the month long trial, which costs 29 quid for unlimited classes in a month. It's only 2 stops away from home, so pretty convenient. However, it's eating up more time than expected. 40mins total travel time, 1.5h yoga class, and 30mins for showering, changing. That's 3 whole hours! I'm starting to wonder how people find time for this, obviously it helps that I'm a post-exam bum, but most of my yoga class-mates seem to be in their 30s, and mainly professionals. How big a lunch break do THEY get?!

Anyway, in case you didn't know, Bikram Yoga is done in a very very hot room (big massive heaters), and people literally rain sweat like clouds. It's a little disgusting. The sweat kept getting into my eyes and stinging them! Today's class was even hotter than the last, and my face was turning a very classy shade of scarlet. I know this because they also provide big-ass mirrors in which you can perv on yourself while doing funky poses. On my first lesson, I had to keep stopping and sitting down due to dizziness. The instructor said this meant it was working, but if that's the case, I must be well on my way to becomin' a guru! It's possible too, that I was drowsy from not eating much that day, because today the dizziness went down alot.

The yoga itself is pretty good, I can see my limbs trembling, so it means my body is really being stretched beyond it's limits. And it's interesting to see how far you can push your body to go. I like the challenge. Some people are incredibly good, the moves they manage to do are crazy! The class caters for both beginners and experts, and I got enough personal support from the instructor.

Unfortunately, halfway through the lessons I usually feel like I'm being tortured because the heat is so intense. I really like the yoga, but I'm not so sure about this heating bollocks. I feel tempted to give up, and it would be easy to, except that I promised myself I am going to survive 5 lessons before giving up, because supposedly it takes about 5 lessons to really get into it.

My fingers ache. Why?

I need some paracetamol.

Endnote: This is totally irrelevant, but I swear to God, I saw this supermodel, Devon Aoki, on the tube the other day. If it wasn't her, she has a very eerie doppelganger. But I know it was her. I think I may have scared her with my staring. My question is, what the hell is a supermodel doing on the shitty Northern line?