I’ve been busying myself on my days off (NO, I LIE – I’ve been lazing around!), decorating my room, personalising my four walls. I have some pictures up on the wall which I am very proud of, not to mention they make me happy every single time I wake up because they’re the first things I see. I still have a stack of Instax which I have not quite decided what to do with. Hang them up? Or stick them on the walls?

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So much space to fill!

 

Not to forget, a bunch of postcards from friends, from myself; from all the traveling I have done the past year. 

I found myself smiling as I went through them one by one, chronologically. Best memories. And then decided that they have to go up on the wall.

But then, wait.

How should they be displayed? Which side should I display?

The photograph side…or the messages that come with the postcards? D: Such a dilemma.

 

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There are more of these postcards!

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Ah, how I miss the simple joys of postcards-writing in various cafes of each city I have visited. :’)
(And then looking for a post office and attempting the city’s language, trying to get stamps and to send them out. Aha.) 

 

Both sides are equally as important and meaningful to me.
But what do I want to see more – the picturesque side, or the love notes behind it

 

 

Which side would you have these postcards displayed?

 

 

Let me know x.

 

 

Toodles. ♥

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”

 

 

Venice is beautiful. And I don’t just mean in plain sight.

There was just something about the dark, lonely alleys cutting across Venice like a maze that caught my breath.

The first time I laid eyes upon the canal, the bridges – I was all “Wow”. A water city, indeed. No cars, no motorbikes. I don’t even remember seeing bicycles. I think it’s forbidden, if I’m not wrong.

Lovely Kris booked a lovely room for us on AirBnB and it was a quaint little place in the middle of…uhh…some alley? We met our host upon our arrival and she took us on an interesting path – turn left, turn right, cross a small bridge, turn left again…- man I can’t even remember now. I can see it in my mind, if you take me there again, I’m *almost* certain I’ll find it. But I cannot describe to you the directions right now. Oh, I’m terrible with directions alright. I get lost all the time, if you’ve been following me on my misadventures you’ll know that. 😀 But I always get to my destination, some way or another. Before I rattle on and on about just how lost we were in Venice, allow me to show you just how whimsical our accommodation was.

 

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1240 – I have to say, it was an interesting door.

Enter and ye shall find…

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More flight of stairs which led us to our pretty little flat? Apartment?

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Very princess-y, what with the mosquito net covering and all that. Not that we needed the netting.

After we were done squealing at the quaintness of our room (and the whole place), we set off with high hopes that we would somehow find ourselves back by the end of the day.

Well, it seemed for Kris, those hopes we harboured came crashing down 5 minutes after we left our comfort zone. Because the minute we started venturing along those alleys, we were already lost. We didn’t exactly have a map, and no Wi-Fi so our smartphones were pretty much useless. The road signs weren’t helpful…AT ALL.

 

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Apparently, Kris was having internal breakdown/panic attack because we were completely lost. I, on the other hand, had to hold my jaw up because I was in awe and very excited at the fact that we were wandering the streets of Venice! And I was oblivious to her suffering, how insensitive of me! But she got over it. I am almost certain she was having fun after that. We got the hang of it after awhile, maneuvering ourselves around. Don’t get me wrong, we were still mostly lost. Lol.

Ah, Venice. We can SMELL you. No joke, there IS some odd odour that is rather off-putting but we heard it’s worse in the summer. Good thing we went in the winter.

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Ah, the Grand Canal. Wowed me, it did.

Although here’s a funny story. We somehow, somewhat found ourselves at the Ponte di Rialto. One of the four famous bridges spanning the Grand Canal, and it is the oldest – according to Wikipedia.

 

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So here was what Kris and I were bantering about:

K: This IS the famous bridge right? The Rialto bridge?

Z: I think so?

…Wait, if this is the famous bridge, why is EVERYONE ON it and not snapping crazy photos OF it???

K: LOL.

 

We found out why in a moment.

 

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IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL, I CRY.

My heart skipped a beat and the view left me breathless. You would think I was having some sort of heart attack right there and then. It was simply amazing. For the 2 evenings we were in Venice, we were on that bridge appreciating the beauty of the sunset and of course, doing our usual nonsense that threw us into fits of giggles and probably drawing strange looks from other tourists. This is definitely one sunset view that I will never forget. I almost didn’t want to leave the bridge, if it wasn’t for Kris pulling me away and reminding me about how she had to do this the last time we were at Niagara Falls and I wanted to take root there as a plant.

Reluctantly, we left to discover other secrets Venice has in store for us.

While we managed to navigate ourselves to our intended destinations (the most important being the port where we took a water bus to the island of Burano, and second most important was getting back to our lodgings), we picked up a lesson or two (more, definitely) on the way. Wise words from Kris sprung somewhere along the lines of “All roads lead to home”. Or was it “Rome”. Hehehe, joke indeed, we were in Italy anyway! It was only appropriate. 😛

My take-home message was not being afraid of getting lost. Especially when you are in a foreign land whose people speak a foreign language. Sure, we have to take precautionary measures and be wary at all times, but opening your heart to possibilities would show you new roads, new discoveries. You discover more when you don’t overly focus on getting there, after all it’s about the journey and not the destination – I’m sure you’ve heard/read that a thousand times over. We never know for sure what we’ll find, it’s almost like a treasure hunt. Sometimes, it might just be as unexpected as a pretty little souvenir shop. I have to be honest, I didn’t have time to fully research on Venice before the adventure began so basically I had no idea what to expect. Which I thought was somewhat a brilliant way to start an experience. Well, it could also be the death of me but let’s not get too negative here.

 

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Maybe I wasn’t afraid because I had Kris. Come on, if I was alone, trying to find my way back in the dark what with the maze of narrow, lonely pathways AND with my almost hopeless sense of direction, I might just be scared out of my wits. On another note, if I was thrown into that situation, desperate times call for desperate measures wouldn’t it? Perhaps my survival instincts would kick in and take control. A very interesting experiment for me to consider in this journey of self-discovery, which I am sure I will regale you with, once I’ve gathered my courage and go on a solo trip some time soon. #YOLO, they say.

 

Right, so where were we?

Ah yes, we mustn’t forget Piazza San Marco, Basilica di San Marco and Campanile di San Marco. Venice’s tallest bell tower, the basilica and the square of St. Mark’s.

And then there is Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute (Basilica of St. Mary of Health), and Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs).

Much to my dismay, we didn’t have enough time to enter the basilicas. I would have love to take a peek at the interior – I have a thing for cathedrals, basilicas and the likes. And the serene feels I get whenever I enter these sacred places.

 

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Can you hear the sighs?

They say Venice is one of Europe’s most romantic cities. The famous (and expensive) gondola ride that almost everyone would go for and rave about. Now they’ve got all the gondolas dolled up and looking very posh indeed but it is such a shame that the gondoliers don’t sing while you cruise along the Grand Canal (do they even sing to begin with or have I been deceived all this time, can someone please enlighten me). While I am not entirely sure how much it costs to get a ride in the gondolas, friends have mentioned different prices so I am guessing it depends on how many people are taking the ride with you and perhaps some negotiation took place? But I might be wrong. Either way, if you’re into the whole romantic notion, you might consider giving it a go. Personally, I thought it has become rather overrated and the price is ridiculous for a poor student like me. And if the gondolier isn’t even singing, heck! Kris felt that if she was going to pay that sum to go on the ride, she’d make the gondolier sing “Dayuuunngggg sampannnn ♪”. LOL. For those who are not familiar with this, it’s an Indonesian folk song that literally meant “row the boat”.

For some reasons, I cannot appreciate the whim of taking a gondola ride at night. Again, this might have to do with whether or not you think/feel that Venice is a romantic city. But from what I’ve seen, Venice gets really dark once the sun dips below the horizon. Sure, there are some warm lights here and there but I can barely see the canals, much less trying to gaze into my lover’s eyes while on the ride, lol. We took the water bus (Vaporetto) on our second night and I was trying to figure out our location if we were on foot, at the same time attempting to tell these buildings apart. Maybe it is just me. I guess I can say I prefer Venice during the day where I can see everything perfectly. Or maybe I need to return to Venice with a man who has clearly swept me off my feet and everything might just fall into place by then, hehe. Regardless of my thoughts about Venice during the day/night, I must say that I might have somewhat fallen in love with this city. 🙂 Dark & mysterious at night, surprises and spontaneity in the day. Sounds like the perfect man to me. 😛

Food-wise, there are lots of restaurants and eateries around so you won’t starve. While they weren’t the best, they were good enough for both of us, we’re not entirely picky. Our plan right from the beginning was to try the gelato in each and every city we were going to and OH THE COFFEE. Not to mention to eat all the pastas and pizzas there are until we get sick of them. And I did eat all the gelato (in the cold!) and drank way too many cups of coffee than I have EVER drunk in a month.  Oh, and of course, Venice is famous for its carnival masks. You will definitely find masks in almost every souvenir shop you chance upon. Prices vary, so do the designs. Got this beauty for €13. 😀 There were many cats’ masks as well, I would’ve gotten it but this one is so prettyyyyyy!

 

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This post isn’t going to help you much – in terms of real information – if you are looking to travel to Venice anytime soon. You are better off researching the facts and catering that to your needs and preferences. But what I intend to achieve by sharing my travels is the hope that this will inspire you to make that trip happen, for real. 😀 I can’t give you exact locations of all these places because half of it was pure accidental discoveries. The other half are famous landmarks that you would be able to pin on the maps beforehand, however because it is Venice I will wish you all the best in your attempts to find them. It’s not that hard, really. Once you get the hang of it. 😉 Here’s MY advice for you, for Venice:

 

Forget the map. Let your feet take you wherever the labyrinthine paths lead.

Cross those bridges, count the stairs.

Peer into every small canal that you WILL come across; but remember, while they look similar, they are not the same. Appreciate that.

Also appreciate what the daylight can do to Venice, and how the city changes once it gets dark.

Buy yourself a mask (only if you are interested, of course).

Drink good Italian coffee and devour gelato in every gelateria you chance upon!

And most importantly…just get lost. 🙂

You won’t regret it. You might even fall in love, like I did.

 

Unless you are a perfectionist, through and through and you need to have everything planned out in advance…perfectly. Or if you, for some reasons, cannot stand the idea not knowing where exactly you are. But I am sure it is an experience you won’t forget. 😛

 

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Venice, I miss. How you have mystified me.

 

Next on the La Dolce Vita series: Isola di Burano.

 

 

Toodles. ♥

I was updating my Facebook profile picture just the other day when I paused, backtracked and clicked open my “Profile Pictures” album. I started going through it one by one, from the very first picture of myself I have posted on Facebook to the one I have just put up. I realized all these photos weren’t just random selfie photos I have taken out of vanity – each and every one of them had some sort of story to it. And what better to do in the very last few days of 2013 than to reminisce? 🙂

When I was much younger, I used to believe that I will grow up looking rather different than I was then, maybe turn into a gorgeous Disney princess, lol who knows? Of course, the years passed…and I still look very much like myself. The chubby cheeks which have been (and always will be, I gather) chubby all my life; my little buttony nose very much unlike my dad’s (or sister’s) tall and finely sculpted ones; and my eyes…(rather large eyes for an Asian, may I immodestly add). I sure didn’t transform much over the years, much less look like a Disney princess today. But that wasn’t the only thing I have noticed from the 31 pictures of myself. I saw different persons, inside, at each stage. Some innocent youth has been shed off in the process while the harshness of reality aged me and the fine lines it caused have never really gone away. It shows, it really does. But in each stage, I have always managed to find happy. And I am so thankful for that.

My latest happy – sun, sea and Italy. 

As with every year (and everyone), I have been doing a little recap of 2013. Facebook has been nagging me to “See My 2013 Year in Review” and to “look back at my 20 biggest moments from the past year”. Indeed. 2013 has not come short of its ups and downs. I probably have more than just 20 big moments! Just like every year, there have been much tears, laughters, joys and sorrows. But the lessons learnt in this past five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes are invaluable and never the same. I have made wonderful, lovely friends and strengthen some familiar bonds. At the same time, I wonder if I may have lost one very good and dear old friend. *sigh*

I survived the work place with awesome friends who guided and supported me throughout and with strong realization that I have much to learn. So much, it will never end. I became slightly more aggressive (no thanks to nursing, really) and knew I needed to be firm and fierce if I were to withstand the rest of my nursing career. Yet at the same time, it was so difficult for me. I can hardly say no to almost anyone on a daily basis, what more be a fighter and growl back at people/things I disagree with? But I gotta be assertive, I must. And Life in every way has been throwing out obstacles for me to practice but I just haven’t overcome that fear of saying no and hurting someone. I will, I promise I will. 2014 will see that. 🙂

I am not entirely lost, though. 2013 also saw the day I stood up for my dreams. I couldn’t be happier to have been accepted into King’s College London to pursue my nursing degree and for a while, I thought I had to give up that dream. While they try to assure me that I am still young and will have other opportunities, I disagreed. Second chances don’t always come by. I wanted it bad enough, and fought tooth and nail for it. Victoriously, here I am, in London, counting down to New Year’s (while my 2 soon-to-be-due essays lay abandoned wtf zunny). I couldn’t be happier.

But do you know what is even more blissful? To be able to share this dream with my dear soul mate and yes, traveling the world while we’re at it. Life has seen us singing on top of Empire State building and frolicking in front of the Statue of LIberty in New York City in 2011. Now Life is seeing us leave our footprints at just about every other iconic architectures there are in Europe. We are terribly blessed and I am terribly grateful. 2014 will be an amazing year indeed. 😀

Our selca needs are insatiable. Lol. There is an entire album dedicated to our vanity but let’s not go there now. 😀 

 

On a more personal note, 2013 has reminded me that opportunities are everywhere, we have to be brave to reach out and grab it. 2013 has also shown me that love can happen just about anywhere and any time, if you let it. Be it at the airport…or at a local weekend market. Sometimes, even while getting lost in the streets, in the rain or under pretty fairy lights adorning trees. Any time, anywhere. 🙂

 

So, here’s to 2014: 

 

To new beginnings; to new friendships; to love; and to more globe-trotting adventures. Not to mention, of course, to great results and graduating with flying colours, LOL!

I don’t have any resolutions (because I no longer believe in making them) but I can still make my wish: May I not let my fear hold me back from my wanderlust, whirlwind romances, and a lifetime of memories. 2014 is looking bright for me, for I have so many grand plans I wish to carry out. I will definitely keep you guys posted on the progress, just need to kick start them! 😀

kushandwizdom:

Everything love

 

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year in the life?

How about love? 

 

How did you measure your year in the life? 🙂

 

Happy New Year, everyone.

 

Toodles. ♥

I will be heading to Italy tomorrow for a week-long trip and it still hasn’t hit me yet. 2 weeks ago I was frantically researching and formulating a rough itinerary. My purest intention is to just go and get lost in the country, In other words, just wing it. But of course, that isn’t always the case and as much as I wished it to magically work out, it wasn’t going to come easy that way.

 Venice//Murano//Burano//Pisa//Cinque Terre//Rome//Naples 

I’m actually looking forward to this trip; I dare say it would be quite a misadventure! Not hoping for anything to go wrong, of course! But we learn along the way, we explore, and we live to tell the tales. The very essence of wanderlust. 

I will forget the harsh reality of the world, for the moment. Forget about the crazy pile of work staring right at my face, trying to guilt-trip me. Forget about being afraid. Forget about my worries, my troubling thoughts, my anxious uncertainty about the future.

 

We did. I did.

Tomorrow, my journey begins! Await my stories!

 

Toodles. ♥

When I am alone, I do things. Things I don’t usually expect myself to do. For example, cooking. Lots of cooking. And the cleaning thereafter. Most of the time, I am amazed by my own (unknown) capabilities. Back home, or in Singapore, I don’t get to experiment with recipes, or do many things my way. I procrastinate, for reasons I know not. Ever since I got here, it is almost as if I took on new responsibilities, new vows, new resolutions to keep myself in check. I cook up storms in the kitchen and though alone, I never feel lonely to resent what I was doing. The melody of that silence while I chopped, sliced and diced kept me going. I enjoy the sizzle that brings me such happiness in each sprinkle of salt, or the tossing of my ingredients in the pan. So far, all my dishes have turned out quite well, if I may be so proud to say. Even Mom is surprised with what I’ve cooked up so far.

I realized that there are many lessons to be learnt in having to live alone. While I may miss the company, I also enjoy the solitude.

 

“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”
― Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

 

And I can’t help thinking: ‘tis the life of my youth. Life is too short to wail and whine about things that displease us. There is always a take-home message from each point of our lives. If I have to live alone, it clearly means I have to perfect my independence. For example, looking at the time I am spending in the kitchen, I am bound to be chef nurse (I quote my mother) by the age of 24. Lol. After all, practice makes perfect.

 

“Sometimes life is too hard to be alone, and sometimes life is too good to be alone.”

― Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

 

Since I’ve been out here, I have had a lot of thinking done (when do I not?) about the way my life is unfolding and how I am doing my best in appreciating every single moment. I notice I am always talking about cherishing the minutes, the hours. I can’t help it. Every morning when I wake up, I thank the heavens for allowing me to witness sunrise but…in actual fact, I am pretty much plagued by the mere thought of a thousand possibilities that I won’t be alive to enjoy the sun setting the very same day.

Morbid, I know.

 

It is exactly how I am feeling. Like my time’s running out. Tick tock, tick tock. “The trouble is, you think you have time.” But I don’t. You don’t. We don’t. It is this fear that makes me want to go out there, do things that my heart desires and come back with no regrets. It’s all about living in the moment. While I worry for tomorrow, I also worry if I would still get to worry about it in the next hour. Do I make sense?

 

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This wall has been my biggest inspiration since I first saw it at Borough High Street. It is an amazing wall of art and if only there was a chalk there, I would definitely not hesitate to scrawl my heartfelt words out. Kudos to Candy Chang for this creation, for she has created a multitude of these walls all around the world. It all began with her loss of a loved one, but with this tragedy, she has managed to spark hope and inspiration in others through this wonderful creation. It also reminds me of the precious time we have left in this world (not much, I daresay) and the numerous things I want to live up to, before I die. I also began to wonder if even a quarter of the people who has chalked their dreams here on this wall are still alive.

Candy Chang has then went on to produce other great projects, like this one: Confessions. Sharing your deepest, darkest secrets to the public; anonymously. It is proof that we, as humans, are not perfect, never are and never will be. We all share the same damn emotions – raw and deeply rooted – inside us, longing to break free. To be free of the guilt and burden of carrying them in our hearts. In other words, we want to know that we are not alone. This project is simply beautiful to showcase to the world that we are simply, never alone. And we take gratification in that.

 

Photo courtesy of Candy Chang: Confessions.

*I TOTALLY FEEL THAT PERSON WHO WROTE THAT CONFESSION*

If only I have an inkling to what I am doing, or what I am about to do. But that’s what life is all about, isn’t it? Working out our own journey, each and every one of us.

In the midst of figuring out my life’s path, I noticed something about myself. A week back, out of boredom I painted my nails dark red; the nails on the left side of my hand. I attempted to do my right hand, but then I couldn’t do it properly. I gave up, also because I was already bored with that too, lol. For that entire week, I went around with just my left hand’s nails painted. It was fairly odd, to be honest. It was almost like seeing 2 sides of me – just by looking at my hands. On one hand (pun intended), I am who I’ve always been – clean, clear and safe. No mess, no fuss. On the other hand (haha!), I am a different me – wild, daredevil, a go-getter. This dark side of me was challenging my other half to do more, be brave. Unlimited. Hand in hand, together we’re unlimited.

It was an interesting week of self-realization, self-discovery…whatever you may want to call it. Almost as if I was watching my own inner battle. One part of me telling me to stay clear of danger, the other’s pushing me to fireball ahead! Oh, the conflict! *dramatic hand gestures* But, by the end of the week, I did manage to muster all the courage and confidence I have and cannonball into a dodgeball session of another university! Wooooo! *three cheers for zunny!* However, I ended up with a very sore arse and aching legs which I managed to lug to Paris the very next day! Amazing? I thought so. Open-mouthed smile

Oh, did I also mention I got dragged in to join KCL’s Harry Potter Society? When I say dragged, I MEANT dragged. By my coat, arms, and ears. But it also turned out to be highly amusing and interactive! My knowledge of Harry Potter has been challenged! Rawr! Time to buck up, lol.

 

So the moral of the story?

 

So, before I die, I am most certainly going to take a risk, take a chance, and make a change. Leave no room for regrets and plenty for love. It doesn’t matter if I have to do it alone, sometimes…

“If you wanted to do something absolutely honest, something true, it always turned out to be a thing that had to be done alone.”

― Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road

 

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Toodles. ♥