Follow:
    Personal

    Hello 2017

    Processed with VSCO with k2 preset

    Hello! It’s my very first post of 2017 on this blog and it is almost the end of the first month *gasp*. 2016 is done and dusted, and January had been a challenging month, but I’m stoked for what’s coming in the next 11 months.

    Real-life: This April – in three months time- will be one year I’ve spent away from home. Yes, ONE. Seasoned expats must be like ‘Pffft, just one year? I’ve been away for x years.’ Well, I’m new to the club so don’t mind me. Other than that, nothing particularly life-changing; I’m still spending 24 hours in a new (and old) city, discovering new places and trying new food. I try to go home once every month, or most six weeks to enjoy Mum’s cooking and the company of family and friends.

    Blog-life: 2017 is when my hosting for this blog expires! The past few days had been exceptionally scary because after 3 years of not doing much on Bluehost, I needed to act fast and renew the hosting before I lose everything. It ain’t cheap, guys. Thankfully, there’s still enough money in my piggy bank reserved specially for the blog to maintain it for a couple of months. Till then, I’ll be working doubly hard to ensure I don’t use my own money to upkeep this space. I update my Instagram pretty regularly, though. Maybe you might want to check it out? ;)

    Thank you to all you wonderful readers who visit from time to time to read the things I’ve wrote. It really means a lot to me and a motivation to share more interesting stories for you to enjoy. xoxo.

    How has the first month of the year been to you thus far?

     

    Share:
    Travel

    Sidi Bou Said: The Blue Doors of Tunisia

    Processed with VSCO with 4 preset

    Processed with VSCO with 4 preset
    Processed with VSCO with 4 preset
    Processed with VSCO with 4 preset

    Tunisia is always going to have a special place in my heart for it being the first African country I’ve ever set foot in. It boast beautiful towns, spectacular beaches, friendly people and of course, amazing food.

    Having only 24 hours (less, actually) in Tunisia, I had to take advantage of all the time I had. Why have a nap in the comforts of your bed when you can walk 200 m down to the beach and enjoy the sun, breeze and waves? The water was cool and blue, and the slightly choppy waves didn’t deter people from swimming further up the beach. People were friendly, smiling as they walked by, occasionally making small talks like ‘Where are you from?’ and ‘How are you liking Tunis so far?’

    Processed with VSCO with 4 preset
    Processed with VSCO with 4 preset
    Processed with VSCO with 4 preset
    Processed with VSCO with 4 preset
    Processed with VSCO with 4 preset

    From our hotel in Gammarth, it was a 20-minute cab ride to Sidi Bou Said, the famous blue and white town in Northern Tunisia. I loved everything from the cobbled streets, white washed walls and bright blue doors to the views of the ocean, shops selling trinkets and clothes and people milling about their own business.

    Processed with VSCO with 4 preset
    Processed with VSCO with 4 preset
    Processed with VSCO with 4 preset

    Having walked around for a bit, our throats were in desperate need of some nourishment. Cafe des Delices was one of the few cafes we found that was accessible and had a magnificent view of the ocean and neigbouring islands. We were forewarned that the food here was subpar, and it’ll be best to just order some drinks and enjoy the sunset. I decided to go for a cup of Tunisian special tea.

    The ingredients were simple: green tea + mint springs + toasted pine nut + desired amount of cubed sugar. I take my tea without sugar, so I get to enjoy the tea’s original flavour and the delectable bits of pine nuts. So yummy.

    Processed with VSCO with 4 preset
    file-nov-21-3-56-37-pm

    What’s a trip to Sidi Bou Said without taking pictures in front of numerous blue doors? These doors came in many shades of blue and in varied designs, as unique as the stories of the people residing behind those doors. Of course, we couldn’t leave Sidi Bou Said without sampling Yo-Yos. These light, greasy and sugary doughnuts are served piping hot and are really, really inexpensive. We had at least 3 of them each.

    Processed with VSCO with a9 preset
    Processed with VSCO with 4 preset
    Processed with VSCO with 4 preset

    While walking down the streets window shopping, a shopkeeper struck a conversation with one of the girls and invited us over to his shop. We politely declined, saying we hadn’t intended to buy anything. But he promised he wasn’t trying to sell us anything. Instead, he brought us through a door at the back of his shop and we were treated to a glorious view of the sunset over Sidi Bou Said. Light-hearted conversations were exchanged, and many, many selfies later, we had to make a move to Halk-el-Wahd (La Goulette) to meet the others for dinner. And yes, as he promised, we weren’t made to buy anything from his shop. What a sweet soul.

    13895534_10154359340830645_8746138782092632154_n
    Processed with VSCO with 4 preset
    Processed with VSCO with 4 preset

    Of course, heading to La Goulette the port of Tunisia and our rendezvous point for the evening was nothing short of an adventure too. We asked a local girl, Khadija for directions and by the end of the hour we made new friends with Khadija’s mum, sister and cousin. They were enamoured by us, and particularly enjoyed K-dramas much to our amusement.

    We paid less than a dollar for a train ticket and hopped on one of the most unique trains I’ve ever seen in my life. If you thought trains in Thailand and India are terrible and unreliable, wait till you take one of these. The doors don’t close properly, trains are moving at 35 km/h and to get out you’d have to manually pry the door open. It was a concept I didn’t get because the doors opened automatically to allow commuters in, but not when they’d have to disembark. Expect delays and literal back track.

    By the time we got to the restaurant, we were epically starving.

    Share:
    Travel

    Exploring Birmingham on a Rainy Day

    Processed with VSCO with 4 preset

    It was a cold and rainy day in Birmingham, effectively ruining my plans to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon. In case you don’t know what’s so special about that place, it’s the birthplace of Shakespeare. So the second option was to head to the city and do more exploring, and visit the architecturally acclaimed Library of Birmingham.

    Processed with VSCO with a8 preset

    With over 800,000 books spanning over 10 floors, the Library of Birmingham is the largest public library in the UK. If that isn’t enough to wow you, it is also the largest regional library in the whole of Europe. The top floor of the library boasts the Shakespeare Memorial Room, housing Britain’s most important Shakespeare collection, and one of the two most important Shakespeare collections in the world. Of course aside from the information boards, we couldn’t touch anything else. Before entering the room, I was treated to a panoramic view of Birmingham city. Wished it wasn’t pouring though, I would have loved to head outside for some pictures.

    Processed with VSCO with 4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a8 preset

    After spending a good hour marvelling at how vast the library was, and stumbling across a few rows of books I couldn’t afford to spend the afternoon finishing them in one sitting, I braved the rain once again and stopped by York’s, right in the heart of the city.

    Processed with VSCO with a8 preset

    Processed with VSCO with 4 preset

    The cappuccino I had was delicious, the ambience warm and a welcomed respite from the cold outside. Just what I needed before heading out again in search of Primark… again.

    Share:
    Travel

    Steak and Peas in Birmingham

    Steak with peas?? 
#birmingham #uk #greatbritain #europenomore #travelgram #wanderfolk #liveit #letsgosomewhere #exploreeverything #globetrotter #sgblogger #igsg #vscocam #travel #food #whatiate #meatlover #makan

    Hello Birmingham, and look! A bit of blue sky. #birmingham #uk #greatbritain #europenomore #travelgram #wanderfolk #liveit #letsgosomewhere #exploreeverything #globetrotter #sgblogger #igsg #vscocam #igersFeel so tiny standing before a giant red building. #birmingham #uk #greatbritain #europenomore #travelgram #wanderfolk #liveit #letsgosomewhere #exploreeverything #globetrotter #sgblogger #igsg #vscocam

    My best friend lived in Birmingham for four years and I’ve always thought of visiting her then. That day never came. I had imagined it dreary, rainy and Privet Drive-like because of what I’ve been exposed to UK through Harry Potter and stuff, but Birmingham City surprised me.

    Day 01 was beautiful; blue skies, white fluffy clouds and considerable amount of sunshine throughout the day. It was rather chilly for a summer day, but I enjoyed the weather immensely. We took a long stroll downtown, stopping at every landmark and taking a hell lot of wefies; one must have a lot when going around with four other people who wanted a photo stop every 10 metres.

    Processed with VSCO with a9 preset

    Lunch (finally after 325823640 stops) was at The Square Peg. Claiming to house ‘Europe’s longest bar’, it’s a great place to stop by for lunch and a few beers (or if you don’t drink, soft drinks or free flow of ice water are available too). The menu for food and drinks were extensive and we were spoiled for choice. I went with steak – as usual – and for the first time ever, it came with peas. I never like the taste of frozen peas and push them as far away from the plate as I possibly could. Apparently it’s normal in the UK to have steak with peas. Nuh-uh, not for me.

    Food wise, it was nothing to rave about. But I enjoyed the atmosphere in the restaurant/pub. The crew were friendly and helpful, and people generally leave satisfied and/or drunk. It was midday for us, so none of us were rolling out of the place. We still had some shopping to do.

    Processed with VSCO with a8 presetProcessed with VSCO with a8 preset

    Basically we spent the rest of the few hours we had, and what was left of our energy in Primark. It was my very first encounter with this Europe staple, and I must say… this place is evil. You go in thinking you’ll get a dress, and you end up getting a whole wardrobe and a bedsheet. Yikes. But things are so, so cheap in Primark and if you look hard enough, you’ll find something tasteful. Oh, and Harry Potter-themed stuff.

    NEXT STOP: Library of Birmingham

    Share:
    Travel

    Sangrias in Madrid

    Processed with VSCO with 4 preset

    My first real step into Europe was to Norway, in winter. White snow blankets everything we past, and it was cold. Like, toe-numbing cold. Around this time of the year is the perfect time to see Europe without freezing your butts off. It’s summertime in Europe, and I’m LOVIN’ it!

    Feeling ambitious, we headed out for lunch straight after checking into the hotel. But that’s only because we know that if we take a nap, it could evolve into a 7-hour sleep. That was such a waste of a beautiful, sunny day.

    Just a 10-minute walk from our hotel was a restaurant called La Central Cervecera. According to some Madrid frequent-goers, they served a mean grilled fish and Sangria. Both, I needed to try. The nice lady who served us spoke little to no English, so after a whole lot of pointing at the menu and praying that she’d get our orders right, we had each a plate of grilled fish and chips and a jug of Sangria to share. Yes, a jug.

    Processed with VSCO with a8 preset

    After a good two months in the desert, freshly caught seafood was most welcomed. I chose the Hake fish, a cod variety and hoped for the best. Unlike the grilled fish I’m used to in Singapore, where it’s accompanied with sambal or other herbs and spices, this restaurant does it simply. Salt, pepper and lemon juice. That’s it. A tiny part of me wished I could add a dollop of red hot chilli sambal on the fish, but its crispy skin and juicy flesh made up for it.

    Processed with VSCO with 4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a8 preset

    After lunch, we hopped on the train to the city, but not before chancing upon a piece of home on the wall of the train station. There were four other people with me, and their country flags too were represented on the wall. How cool is that!

    As we wandered towards Puerta Del Sol, one of the best know and busiest public square in Madrid, I marvelled at the architecture of the various B&Bs, shops and restaurants lining the streets. Of course being Asian, and brought up in the -what do you call us- Far East, the architecture in Europe is way, way vibrant in my eyes.

    Processed with VSCO with 4 presetProcessed with VSCO with 4 presetProcessed with VSCO with 4 presetProcessed with VSCO with 4 preset

    Looking at the crowds milling about you wouldn’t even think it was a Monday. DON’T PEOPLE WORK HERE?! Plus it’s summer, so there’re tons of sales going on. I walked into Zara, Pull and Bear and other shops.. came out with more receipts in my purse than notes.

    Processed with VSCO with k3 preset

    The temperature dipped significantly in the evening; the slight drizzle in the evening could have been a factor, but that didn’t stop us from wandering further. We walked by a five-storey Primark in Grand Via but didn’t head inside to curb temptations… which we will learn to regret the next day because it may have been one of the biggest Primarks in the world with extensive selection of items we could possibly want but do not need. Oh well.

    All in all, we discovered that Madrid was a city that knew no weekdays or weekends. It’s crowded every day of the week, and so vibrant you could just sit at an alfresco cafe sipping coffee and/or Sangrias and watch all kinds of people go by you. I’d love another opportunity, a longer time to explore the beautiful Spanish capital.

    Share:
    Food

    Iraqi Cuisine: Qouzi or Ouzi

    Processed with VSCO with a9 preset

    It was 8.30 in the evening and the Flatmate and I were at Souq Waqif and I was positively starving. Walking down the lane of restaurants and cafes, we saw Al Adhamiyah. It was an Iraqi restaurant, one of those I’ve chanced upon on Zomato  a service like hungrygowhere for Singapore’s restaurants. There were not many patrons in the restaurants, it being past break fast time and all, so we were seated in a nice, air conditioned corner upstairs away from the hustle and bustle of the Souq.

    The restaurant was dimly lit, making it a comfortable place to dine in, and at the same time lets diners feast their eyes on the well placed traditional Iraqi decor, which includes old pictures of the functioning cities in Iraq.

    I wanted to try something traditionally Iraqi, so obviously I asked for the waiter’s recommendations. Maskoof or Masgouf is a traditional seasoned, grilled carp dish. It was also full of bones, hence not my cup of tea. I went with his recommendation of the Roasted Lamb Qouzi (54 QAR/ ~ SGD 20). He hinted that we should share.

    Of course, before the dish came, curious me was Googling what on earth had I just ordered. There were no such things as Lamb Qouzi. But Lamb Ouzi however, was braised lamb atop spiced rice.

    Processed with VSCO with a9 preset

    My Lamb Qouzi/Ouzi came and the waiter was right; the rice portion was for like two or three persons. The dish came with two sides: traditional okra stew and white bean stew. I skipped past the white bean stew because it tasted like baked beans, and I am not a huge fan of baked beans (but my best friend Rasyidah eats it with baked rice once upon a time). But the tiny okra cooked in tomato paste was flavourful.

    Processed with VSCO with a9 preset

    I couldn’t stop gushing about the lamb though. It was tender; the meat slides right off the bones and was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Mildly spiced, making the two kinds of rice and noodles, plus the okra perfect accompaniments to the lamb. Rice and noodles somehow reminds me of a story Ummar told me about his Dad mixing rice and noodles and I have yet to grasp the concept of that.

    Processed with VSCO with a9 preset

    Complimentary dessert and Iraqi tea was served after the meal. Dessert was Mahalabiya, a Middle Eastern milk pudding with almond shavings and walnut bits. Creamy and not too sweet. Traditional Iraqi tea was served in mini cups, smaller than the Turkish tea cups and tastes of Cardamom. Unlike Turkish tea, where they served them plain with sugar cubes on the side, Iraqi tea was known to be super sweet. Since the attentive waiter realised we are not fans of super sweet stuff, he left the sugar unstirred at the bottom of the cup.

    Processed with VSCO with a9 preset

    An overall lovely experience, and the food was great. Will definitely come back when I have cravings for good meat. Our total damage for the night was less than 100 qar, just a little under SGD40. For two people. Need an introduction to Iraqi cuisine, here’s one in Doha!

    Share:
    Lifestyle

    Breakfast For Dinner

    Processed with VSCO with a8 preset

    You know that feeling where you aren’t sure of what to do now or what to do next… when you’re trying to make plans for the future but the events of the now aren’t cooperating? When you’re basically in limbo and have no freaking idea what to do?

    Yeah, I’m in that limbo right now.

    Maybe someday I can look back to this post and celebrate how far I’ve come since being this low, but today I’m still in that hole and desperate to climb out of it… but I don’t know how. I won’t call it being depressed because I’ve seen that word being thrown around loosely, I don’t know what it means to be depressed. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. I’m not going to box my feelings up and label them. And don’t ask me what it is about, because right now I won’t tell. Maybe someday I would. I’m optimistic that this too shall pass. I hope.

    large-5

    So I do what I can do. I finished two series on Netflix (Bates Motel and The Returned because I like to dig my own grave getting myself shit scared when the flatmate is not around). The people around me (literally) are really supportive: random lunches, visits to the flat and tea at ungodly hours. The flatmate couldn’t stand me holing myself up in the room watching Today’s Special – a pretty good but not too satisfying culinary film- and dragged me out for dinner and shisha. I was most impressed with what I had at the Iraqi restaurant, I will write about it later.

    And I eat breakfast for dinner. Like, a heavy breakfast to break my fast at dusk. Because early mornings are spent eating things that are not too heavy, yet at the same time high in energy to sustain me throughout the day.

    I defrosted some turkey bacon, and throw them in the oven, fry up some scrambled eggs, emptied out a whole can of Heinz baked beans… enough to keep some for nuking another day. Toasted some bread, spread some heavenly butter on it and brewed some hot water for coffee. Nescafe Gold Blend Barista Coffee, at least that’s what it says on the can. Love it with a dash of vanilla soy milk that I am slowly running out of.

    Then I wiped the plate clean, and the mug of coffee too. I think of what to do the next day. Same thing I’ve been doing for the past 9 days. The only thing different is probably what I plan to cook. We’ll see how that’ll turn out.

    Share: