NOTE — At some point in time over the course of the past two years, this blog morphed from reflections on travel/living abroad to vague musings that flirt with existential crisis. I can only blame the French. This post’s format is a blunt attempt to correct the trend. Inspired by college flatmate.
May – Not actually summer
Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah
One can’t really write a short post on visiting Israel and Palestine. I don’t want to leave anything out. But I had one of the most visceral spiritual experiences of my life at the Western Wall. Thank you to N for being a wonderful guide and answering my hundreds of questions.
The history of Warsaw is heavy. I spent 4 hours at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, one of the most nuanced, sensitive, contextualised exhibitions on the Shoah. Moving past the violent history, Warsaw today is a cool, urban center offering green spaces, delicious food (shoutout to paczkis), and cozy hangout spots.
June – Winding down
It’s the end of an era. The city I daresay I know the best out of any in the world is no longer mine to call home. No doubt my last few months in Paris were some of the happiest of my entire life, especially after I finished school in May. Endless stretches of time to take the long way home, to twist myself into weird poses at yoga in the Tuileries, to talk politics and love with close friends, to watch a World Cup match, to eat every imaginable type of carbohydrate. Every day from late spring to early summer seemed to leisurely bleed into each other. Every day was bright with the hazy summer light that melted into a deep cerulean blue only at 11pm. When I’m old and looking back on this period of time, I think I’ll remember this vignette — Walking down Rue du Faubourg at 8pm, with two bottles of chilled rose clinking in my tattered tote bag, nestled with a baguette tradition that has a premature bite taken out of it, heading to the Seine while chatting up M and K.
Graduation from my masters happened. Fete de la Musique rocked my world (and ripped R’s pants as we climbed over the fence to Buttes Chaumont). And just when I had committed mentally to staying another year, plans changed.
London June 2-5th
Only on my fourth visit to London did I really end up liking it, thanks 100% to A. Notting Hill is a charmer. The tea and coffee is infinitely better. Got smashed on Pimm’s. The pub by LSE even had Goose Island on tap.
Milan,Venice June 14-17
I met up with my parents in Milan, from where we journeyed on to Venice. Italy is a mesmerising country. It exudes sensuality and warmth (quite the opposite of Parisian cool), makes you want to drown in your Aperol Spritz, slowly…softly…. I think Venice was the best family vacation we’ve ever taken and (because?) it was only four days. I’ve never seen my mom light up so much just by being in a place. I also do not doubt that Italian food is an international crowd pleaser. Linguine is basically Chinese noodles anyway according to my dad.
July – Exhaustion
Beirut July 4- August 4
My month-long stay was more stress than relaxation. Many a morning I felt like never leaving my bed or the apartment to face the mammoth of responsibilities awaiting me outside. I was alone in an unfamiliar place. Really alone. I didn’t know a single soul in Beirut, yet was attempting to execute an intensive artist development workshop with two cancelled debit cards and two unexpected team member drop-outs. One can imagine how such a situation can put a damper on enjoying the Lebanese coast. Nonetheless, everything came together, despite my anxieties. Was it perfect? No. But it was accomplished with the invaluable help of classmates, new friends, my lovely co-founder and pints of Arabic ice cream. Next time, Beirut, I’ll come and enjoy myself.
August – Restorative eating
Puerto Galera August 5-6
My flight from Beirut to Manila was less than $300, most likely due to the high demand for maids from the Philippines in the Middle East (human rights abuses in this industry are worth educating yourself on). Happily reunited with my better half, K, in tropical paradise.
Taipei August 6-15
What can I say about Taipei except that I gained five pounds, and happily so, while eating my way through all the city had to offer? Everyone eats well in Taipei – from taxi drivers to executives. K was the best tour guide. Always go eat with people who know exactly what you love and exactly what you don’t care for.
Shanghai August 16-19
My first time ever in Shanghai, can you believe it? Beijing and Shanghai are rival hubs, as naturally all political and economic capitals of a nation become. 1920’s Shanghai is the stuff of legends and a walk around the city still evokes that era. The influence of European powers is still visible in the Beaux Arts well-kept historical hotels and banks lining the Bund. Did you know that during the British occupation, the Chinese were not allowed to enter the park on the riverwalk? Problematic pasts, can’t really separate it from anything related to British imperialism. Nonetheless, I was absolutely charmed by the neighborhood in the former French Concession. Something about tree-lined streets…
September – Establishing new home in Nairobi
Give me some time to process 🙂