April 12, 2016 § Leave a comment

There’s still a fire in my heart, my darling. But I’m not burning for you.

romance

March 15, 2016 § Leave a comment

Ask me to define romance, and this will be one of my answers.

post

March 10, 2016 § Leave a comment

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The sun glazed down on everything as I held up my hand to hail a bus.  Though it could have just been any other day in this place I had grown both distant and accustomed to, there was something ethereal about holding sheets of paper from Kazakhstan with Assel’s handwriting. I held on them tightly as the bus dragged the wind against me.  It’s been awhile since I last went to the post office.  For the sake of recognizing this memory, I confess that being in love is harmful to my writing.  On the other hand, the search and loss loss and search of it does wonders.  It magnifies emotions and turns platitudes to wisdom.

I had sent a letter to Assel shortly after coming back from my year-end vacation.  The created reality of the “new year” helped me break away from the doldrums.  Along with that, I sent a slow trickle of other long overdue letters as well. There’s always something beautiful about reading posted letters.  Just like how we see the light of stars that had long gone – reaching our eyes at a time past when it appeared, but nonetheless a sign of its existence.  There is something resplendent in the desynchronization of the space-time of the sender and the recipient.  Here she was talking about a celebration she looks forward to, and me realizing that the said celebration was in fact yesterday.  Here she was talking about looking for a job while me proud of the fact that she told me a month ago that she’s found one.  Here she was telling me how surprised she was of the news of my failed conquest of love, and me slowly becoming indifferent to it.  And just how physicists solely rely on electromagnetic waves to learn of celestial objects light-years away, we are sometimes just as dependent on words.  I’m happy I’ll be stashing in another envelope in my letter box in my dorm.  I’ve collected 2 shoeboxes-full now since moving to Singapore.  The magnitude surprises me not because I never expected I’d receive as much, but because knowing how slow mail arrives, I have not been aware of how fast time had been running.  The idea that I’ve only a year til I hopefully finish PhD excites me (and scares me).  Will I still be in this place then?  Will I miss it?  I wonder.

As I reach my stop, I fold back the two sheets and put it inside the handmade envelope Assel made.  At least some things, like this friendship, I need not wonder.
——————-

goldfish

February 26, 2016 § Leave a comment

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aurora-lucky

February 20, 2016 § 1 Comment

“And I feel light for the very first time. Not anybody knows that I am lucky to be alive. I don’t know where I am, or where I’ll go. Or where to even begin when I know what lies behind makes no sense in my mind. But I know that it’s time to let go.” – Aurora

langkawi

February 10, 2016 § Leave a comment

“Bagalan mo kumain please lang”, Kat told me from across the table.

I ended up finishing first anyway.  In my defense, my order was smaller.  This was where we found ourselves after a 6 hour bus ride from Singapore and a 1 hour taxi ride – eating nasi lemak in KLIA2 while waiting for our flight to Langkawi.  In retrospect, we should have bought straight flight tickets from SG to LGK, but we both had an appetite for adventure and saving, and so the adventure was to begin but the saving was going to be replaced by spending.

Our flight departed around 8:30AM and we reached Langkawi in less than an hour.  Kat had booked all the plane and bus tickets while I booked the 3-night accommodation and prepared the itinerary.  We checked in at Tubotel, which was tucked at a quiet place a few minutes away from the busy Pantai Cenang beach.  The only downside was that we literally had to live inside a tube, not much space for anything else besides a bed.  The shared bathroom could have also been improved, but the redeeming factor was the view and the lounge area by the beach which was relaxing both in the morning and the evening.

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Our first agenda upon arriving was to eat lunch and head out to Panaroma Langkawi for the SkyCab (cable car) and the SkyBridge.  It was a cloudy day which was good for our skin but not so much for getting great pictures.  I didn’t know Kat had a serious fear of heights until we were there, but she conquered it by letting me take charge of the itinerary.  The view and the altitude was better and higher than I expected (and to think I had always downplayed Langkawi in my list of places to visit in the past).  Even if it was a Saturday, we just had to wait for a little over an hour – which we killed by taking pictures and eating ice cream.  I ACTUALLY ATE ICE CREAM.  I don’t usually do this given my lactose intolerance and the fact that we had the entire day ahead of us – but I did.  I felt carefree that I was with Kat and that I drank a charcoal tablet before leaving.  Kat didn’t mind my incessant burps too much…I think.  In addition, the ticket had a complimentary viewing of some 3D and 4D shows.  With the recent weakening of the RM, it was very much worth the price.  The only thing to note here is having to walk through a dirt path with haphazardly placed rocks as stairs from the SkyCab to the SkyBridge.  It was cheaper than taking a lift to the bridge, but it was honestly very tiring and dangerous (if slippery).

After this, Kat wanted to drop by the Telaga Harbor when she saw the parked yachts while we passed by.  Despite the fact that it was raining, she wanted pictures beside her dream vehicle (which she will take back after our boat ride the next day).

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We spent the rest of the afternoon in town feasting on seafood (Happy Happy Cenang Seafood) (oh how I missed real fish) and relaxing by the beach.  The water and the sand wasn’t remarkable, but the atmosphere was relaxing enough.  We did notice though that cars freely drove through the sand at the beachfront – not a safe practice in my opinion.  The streets in Pantai Cenang was dotted with multiple restaurants ranging from local, to Thai, to Syrian, to Turkish food, along with miscellaneous stores, a tailor, souvenir shops and spas.  I wasn’t able to determine the time they close since we pretty much were home by 10 at the latest everyday.  Good girls.

The next day was the supposed highlight of our trip – scubadiving!  My last dive was 6 years ago and it was Kat’s first time so we opted for the intro dive.  We booked our trip with East Marine Holiday and paid quite a sum thinking it was of good quality as we read from reviews.  I was disappointed with the boat they used to bring us there though because there was around 100 passengers.  As Kat described it, we were like refugees in a boat.  It was great we didn’t opt for snorkeling or we’d be part of the unaccounted majority of the passengers who were simply ferried to and fro Pulau Payar Marine Park.  The ones on the dive tour thankfully got preferential treatment upon disembarking the ferry.  The waves were quite strong (we both got seasick and Kat said she didn’t want a yacht anymore) that day so visibility was poor.  I still had a good time though because I was surprised I pretty much knew how to dive still.  And we got to see a huge moray eel, groupers, parrot fishes, trigger fishes, angel fishes and lots of other fishes I couldn’t identify.  Macro viewing was impossible however because of the poor visibility.  The coral reef was not that impressive either.  But I was glad Kat enjoyed as well considering she was a bit apprehensive initially.  In afterthought, I don’t think I’ll recommend East Marine because of poor briefing, the mass transportation issue (which ate up a huge amount of our time) and the unappetizing lunch.

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Since we were tired that day, we treated ourselves to meat at a Syrian restaurant (Yasmin), which was good.  I had been drooling for kebab the moment we got there and I got lamb kebab that night.  Service and food was great.

The next day, I had minimal expectations for the tour save for the excitement of kayaking, but this will turn out to be the highlight of our trip for me.  We booked a Mangrove Kayak Tour with Dev’s Adventure Tours and from the moment they picked us up til they dropped us off, I was impressed with their service.  Our guide, Jerome, was a naturalist who emphasized the importance of protecting the environment.  All activities were environmentally-sustainable and friendly, and we learned a lot – things like bats always turn left upon leaving the cave, what mangroves are, that the eagle feeding activity at Langkawi is not good (it’s akin to the whaleshark feeding at Oslob), macaques mate a lot in a day, and so many other things.  The view of the mangroves at Langkawi was spectacular, and to kayak itself was an experience – our shoulders were tired as hell in the end.  We had lunch at a floating restaurant (Hole in the Wall) and ate the local fare.  Overall, it was really a great experience and I would give them 5 stars.  It’s totally worth the extra money compared to just having gone around the mangroves in the boat, even if it required more muscle work.

 

After the mangrove tour, we were contemplating on skipping on our plan of parasailing (since we couldn’t do it together…we’re not really clingy but yeah haha) and just spending more on food.  We went back to Tubotel first to rent bicycles since we were getting tired of riding the taxi.  We ate at a local restaurant (Bella Restaurant) which was okay, and on the way home Kat suddenly had the urge to try the spa which we initially planned on but decided to cancel to stick to a budget.  Since we had extra money from the canceled parasailing, we headed to Alun-Alun Spa and were amazed at the affordable price considering the excellent place, atmosphere and service.  Kat got a shoulder massage while I got a head massage and earwax candle (which when I researched afterwards was supposedly dangerous according to western standards haha).  If only we had another day and more money, I think we would have gone back there.  We cycled home in the dark, which was quite an adventure too since the streets were not well lit.  It wasn’t a brilliant idea, but the most memorable moments are seldom well-thought.

We spent the night hanging out by the beach one last time and talking to Charlie, who was a British guy with an interesting story and working part-time at Tubotel.  He gave us free pizza, which was really nice of him.  The next day, we woke up late and went back to KL via Airasia.  We spent the rest of our money there on food, our bus got delayed but it was surprisingly really comfortable, complete with an entertainment tablet per seat and dinner (and the price of KL to SG was actually half of the SG to KL bus) (Nice Bus Liner).

thumb_IMG_9387_1024Kat busy taking our selfie while I was preoccupied checking out the Entertainment Tablet (she got separate seats because she knew we would be tired of each other by the 4th day).

We spent a total of 600 SGD each for our trip including all transportation costs, which I think is okay considering the activities we did and also the fact that it was during the Chinese New Year Holiday.  This trip is special because Kat and I have always celebrated the day we first met each other (8th of February).  This is our second year anniversary (the first one we spent getting a food coma at a Korean buffet) and I’m already excited for our next one. :D We literally spent several weekends working out for this trip, which was useful not for the bikini but for the kayaking and the walking up the SkyBridge.  Kat was a great travel buddy, as long as I didn’t get on her nerves. haha, peace Kat. :p I’m proud and happy you did a lot of firsts with me! :D (kasama na yung “tayong dalawa sa kama” hahaha)

 

 

turtle

January 24, 2016 § Leave a comment

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hibiscus

January 16, 2016 § 2 Comments

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Tried my hand in watercolor painting lately. This is the first one I did in real watercolor paper.  Looks bad (I did that purple thing in the middle all wrong) but…let the learning curve begin!

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white Christmas

December 31, 2015 § Leave a comment

Don’t have much time to narrate my December this year (as work is already waiting for me to narrate as well), but I’ll try to do that in a few pictures.

10345821_10153399911853282_7751413567684042157_nFirst of all, I was lucky to witness my one and only Kuya Raffy  (*tears of joy*) marry Ate Jam <3

1930492_10205516292651834_3617148227565685470_nand I got to be bridesmaid, while my shoulders were frozen to death in the chilly LA air

image-e9f4a4ffd84d2eb49bad9b8d66f0954f68de5a9c2768a09fce86113f1fe1f1bf-Vmy good-looking cousin, Josh, was the bible bearer, while his uber cutie brother, Justin, was the ring bearer (Tita Shirley was a godparent)

IMG_2899went on a 5-hour drive with Tita Wowie, Uncle Edwin, Erin and Erika from Arcadia, CA to Sequoia National Park

IMG_2848rainbow pass  (I think we saw 10 rainbows during that drive ,by far the most in any single trip I’ve ever seen) while driving through stretches of almonds and oranges surviving the Californian drought

IMG_2990and woke up to this beautiful white Christmas scenery

IMG_3018my beautiful cousin, Erin, enjoying a light snow fall

IMG_2967and her adorable sister, Erika (snow tubing)

IMG_3029snowfall

IMG_3059made my first snowman with Erika and Erin

IMG_3095t’was the night before Christmas

IMG_29705 layers of shirts and 2 layers of pants after (plus breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets – god help me lose all of this before Valentine’s at least haha)

IMG_3107in the land of the giant trees, sequoias (with trunks as wide as 30 ft and as high as 400 ft, some of these trees have lived for more than 4000 years)

IMG_3159welcomed by the warm Kok family :)

IMG_3245Christmas morning

IMG_3259my grandma, Mommy Auring

IMG_3255morning in Arcadia

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If I could fill this post with pictures of Josh, Justin, Erin and Erika – I would have, because this vacation has been mostly about them.  I loved the time I spent with my younger cousins, and my only wish is that they remember me as they grow up.  This was my first Christmas away from Ama and Gab, but it was a Christmas well spent with my family in the other side of the globe.

Other things worth remembering but will not expound as of now

  1. married life of my aunts
  2. jogging conversation with Kuya Alex
  3. life abroad
  4. that one should not sit on the snow for an extended amount of time without proper insulation
  5. I should really start writing real letters again

November 29, 2015 § Leave a comment

Your past is beautiful where it belongs. In your past.

– Sayan Sen

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