Journal – October 1

Journal - October 1

 

Transcription

Gratitude

I’m grateful for a happy start to a new month! My Instagram reached 3K followers today and I can’t quite believe it. I feel so thankful to have found something I enjoy doing which people seem to enjoy, too!

Freezing

The start of the month seems to also have brought a sudden new chill. I went to bed wearing 3 layers – a t-shirt, thick cotton pyjamas AND a thick fluffy dressing gown. On top of that, I was buried under our down and feather duvet. I still woke up at 3 am freezing my butt off! And there was Piers, sleeping happily, topless.

Bidaily?

I can’t keep up with daily pages anymore, not if I want to free up some time to work on monthly trackers and planners, and allow for unforeseen events. I will do a daily every 2 or 3 days now. But then I can’t call it a daily anymore, can I? What do I call it? A bidaily?

Meditation

Tried a guided meditation on Daily Yoga. It was so bad! Like he was trying to sound soothing but it sounded like he was telling children a ghost story!

 

If you like my daily posts, consider following me on Instagram and Facebook. Thank you for reading!

 

 

A rubbish zoo and a town with a ridiculously long name

Continuing the story of my Wales road trip with Piers, I want to talk about two places in particular.

First up is the Welsh Mountain Zoo, situated on the northernmost part of Wales atop a mountain, where I thought we could see spectacular views as well as animals.

Well, we didn’t quite, and this is why in a nutshell:

Half the animals couldn’t be found (enclosures/cages were empty), the ones present weren’t really interesting, and the supposed nice view was a letdown.

 

Welsh Mountain Zoo

 

Welsh Mountain Zoo view

 

There’s a rather blah view, which you can enjoy while you sit in a druid ring freezing your bum off.

What’s druid ring doing in a zoo, anyway?

It was inhumanly cold when we went that day, even though it was summertime (23 June). The wind was really strong, making it feel even colder. The moment we got there, I wanted to jump back into the car and drive away.

The only reason we didn’t was because we’d already paid £22 to get in.

Piers gallantly let me wear his sleeveless padded jacket over my autumn coat and, still, I froze, as the wind whipped hair into my eyes for sport.

 

Very windy

 

Very windy

 

I tried to enjoy the outing but I was honestly quite miserable the whole time. The only “fun” I had was when Piers and I repeatedly joked about how crap the zoo was.

Well, I suppose I did like seeing some of the animals. I mean, it wasn’t an impressive show by any stretch but I love animals anyway, so there was that.

Here’s a bunch of them:

 

Welsh mountain goats
Welsh mountain goats

 

 

Welsh mountain kid
Welsh mountain kid

 

 

Humboldt
Humboldt penguin

 

 

Ring-tailed lemur
Ring-tailed lemur

 

 

Brown bear
Brown bear

 

 

Cotton top tamarin
Cotton top tamarin

 

 

Backtrian camels
Backtrian camels

 

 

We had planned to spend three or four hours at the zoo, take some slow walks, enjoy the view, maybe have lunch, etc. But it was so miserable and disappointing that we left after an hour and a half.

We drove on to the town with the ridiculously long name.

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (yep, that’s the town) is the longest town name in Europe and the second longest in the world.

The name is a Welsh sentence meaning “St. Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and the church of St. Tysilio with a red cave”.

Im. pres. sive. (Said with a brow-raising, dafuq did I just hear, look.)

 

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch railway station house

 

Sidetrack: The record holder for longest place name in the world is Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu in New Zealand.

It means “The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one”.

W. o. a. h. If that is not trippy, I don’t know what is.

I think it’s nuts to name a place using a convuluted sentence. It’s a bloody sentence not a name. Next, people are gonna be naming their babies in sentences, why not?

Example: Baby girl whose mother, Anne, met her father, Bob, under the big dark grey bridge by the pretty daffodils where they fell in love and Bob immediately proposed marriage to Anne using a cheezel he just happened to have in his pocket, while fluffy white clouds stood in the beautiful blue sky as silent but approving witnesses.

 

And the baby's name is...

 

There, make that a person name using whatever foreign language you like. Because you’re allowed to join loads of words together to make one word, only in foreign languages.

 

Okay back to Llanfair…etc.

The story is that, in the 1800s, the construction of a new road and railway crossing turned the small rural settlement into an important commercial centre, attracting all sorts of tradesmen.

Around 1860, a committee was formed to help attract even more trade and tourism and a cobbler came up with the idea of making the town have, like, the longest name in the world. (Except they didn’t reckon for New Zealanders to beat them; they should have added a few more clauses to their sentence when they could.)

It bloody worked, anyway.

 

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch Vovlo garage

 

The name is probably the only reason anyone even goes there anymore today. We didn’t find much to look at. Just unremarkable buildings and roads. A very average, very quiet town.

There are only a few small attractions in the area (2 bridges, an old toll house and a 27-metre tall column built in 1815 to pay tribute to some marquess who had lost a leg in battle), but we didn’t have time to do anything other than stop to take photos of the town name.

 

James Pringle Weaver

 

This (above) is the James Pringle Weaver visitor-centre-cum-shop. It’s the main stopping point for tourists. Inside, you can buy souvenirs such as record-breaking-size train tickets or get your passport or postcards marked with the famous Llanfairpwllgwyngyll stamp.

And this is how you say Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch:

 

(If you can’t see the audio embed, click here.)

 

In Welsh, the letter w is read like a double o (w = oo). That’s easy. The hardest thing to say is probably the “ll”, which is pronounced like a “chl”, although not a hard or even soft c but more like an airy version of it (a bit like Darth Vader breathing).

 

Llanfair PG railway station

 

The actual railway station sign helps visitors pronounce the name by breaking the word into chunks, but it can’t explain the double ls.

Anyway, that was a mildly interesting diversion on the way to our next destination, Caernarfon, which was about 15 minutes’ drive away.

I don’t really want to think or talk about this town anymore after today because every time I do, I compulsively try to pronounce the name over and over to get it right and I end up with a sore tongue, an irritated throat and a brain threatening to implode on itself if I don’t stop.

So, it’s over to you now.

Curing a cold (or the flu)

So, I was planning to do part 2 of my “year in two posts” over the weekend but I fell sick. It was sudden and horrid, a very bad cold (or the flu, I’m not sure).

I had razor blades in my throat, my nose blocked up completely when I lay down so I couldn’t breathe, so I had to pass the night sitting on the sofa, I had to run to the toilet every 15 minutes to blow my nose and pee, and my stomach was full of gas due to overzealous salivary glands causing me to swallow constantly, which then provoked the razor blades in the throat more, which in turn provoked the salivary glands, ad infinitum, and life is miserable.

Lemsip was rubbish. Didn’t do a thing at all. It did work for me in the past, when I was in Singapore, but it never seems to in England, and I’ve tried enough times to be sure, since I was getting colds (or the flu) about once a month last year while I was working with children.

It was only after a day and night of suffering that I suddenly remembered this crazy miracle cure I had once in China: Boiled ginger coke.

 

Boiled ginger coke

 

I got to boiling. It was a happy chance that I just happened to have ginger and Coca Cola at home. I also added some lemon juice because some online recipes mention adding lemon slices. I thought it would improve the taste. I think it did.

I drank one can that night but I don’t think I used enough ginger because the drink didn’t wow me like it did when I was in China.

The next day, I doubled the ginger dosage and left it to simmer a bit longer, and immediately felt better after drinking it all up. I took another dose in the night just before bed and slept quite well.

I woke up feeling very optimistic. Almost all the pain and discomfort had gone. The only annoying thing left was a runny nose but runny noses are not painful so I was quite happy with that.

 

Now, a side story.

While I was on my ginger coke treatment and feeling rather disappointed with Lemsip, I asked Piers to get me more Lemsip because we were running low, and just in case I needed more.

I know, I know, it sounds crazy to continue putting your faith in something that has failed you repeatedly, but when you’re ill and desperate, something (even bought hope) is better than nothing.

I was sleeping when Piers came home with the pills, but it was Beechams and not Lemsip. He said the store didn’t have Lemsip. They had two types of Beechams and he got the Ultra, which was three times more expensive.

 

Have you come to save me at my hour of most desperate need?

 

I woke up, still lying there, smiling to see him. He explained the change of brands and his decision to buy the more expensive one (“Must be more effective, right?”).

As he handed me the package, he said quite solemnly, “You can only take one capsule each time.”

I was impressed. That sounded special.

I looked at the back of the box (I always do for medicines) and saw that it said, “2 capsules every 4 hours as required.”

I read that out loud and looked at him expectantly.

His reply: “Well, YOU are only allowed to take one capsule each time.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because it’s expensive!”

 

Gotta love the boyfriend.

And, by the way, Beechams Ultra is really good. Stopped my nose running. I’m not 100% yet but it’s getting there, so we’re back in business. Part 2 coming soon!

Partying in England

I’ve been in England for about three months accumulatively and only just had my first party night out on Saturday.

 

Aruba

 

That’s partly because I’ve developed an aversion to hangovers, but mostly because it’s been too cold in England to be out gallivanting in little party dresses in the middle of the night.

Even during the dead of winter, girls walk about the streets in tiny black dresses, high heels and little handbags. No coats, no scarves, no gloves. And the temperature would be about 0°C.

They would hang around in the cold, outside clubs and pubs, waiting for friends or just being seen, I don’t know.

I would see them while walking home with Piers after a late night movie. I would be bundled up in 5 layers of clothes, face hidden in a hood and scarf, and freezing, and think that the party girls must all be robots or vampires or crazy.

Seeing as it would be uncool to go to a club looking like an Eskimo, but there was no way I was going to subject myself to hypothermia otherwise, I never said yes to a night out.

Until last Saturday, that is.

 

Sheylara

 

Piers’ best friend’s sister’s best friend was having a farewell party because she’s going off and getting married in Scotland.

So we went out and had a party in her name but the darnedest thing was that, the entire night, I only saw her once for like half a minute because Piers doesn’t really know her that well.

It was about 10°C that night but warm indoors. I brought a coat to put on during the times we had to walk about, like getting from Club A to Club B. It was cold even then.

 

Sheylara and Piers

 

We had originally planned to eat out and then go to the party but Piers had a craving for dumplings when we went to a Korean supermarket in the evening.

We ended up getting a huge bag of groceries because he said, “Get anything you want cos we might not come back here again for some time.”

So I got tofu and and luncheon meat and rice. Yes, NORMAL rice. Fortunately, they have small bags of Thai jasmine rice in the store. We also got kimchi and raspberry wine and the dumplings.

On the way home, I said, “Where shall we go for dinner, then?”

And he said, “I don’t know. All I feel like eating now are those dumplings.”

So we went home and cooked.

 

Cooking

 

Dinner

 

Tofu with crispy pork floss and garlic

 

Meat dumplings

 

We didn’t go to the party until almost 10 pm.

It was great. I got to meet more of Piers’ friends.

And I discovered the people who had been making fun of Piers in my blog comments. Piers had suspected it was his friends but they had vehemently denied their mischief until recently.

 

Teasing comments

 

 

Teasing comments

 

 

Teasing comments

 

I find it all quite funny, though. We had suspected it was someone he knew, very likely his close friends, because it was just the kind of thing they would say to each other in real life. I think slagging your friends off for fun is a great British past-time.

So, this is them, the naughty people.

 

Piers' friends
(From left: Rich, me, Sarah, Piers, Jamie, Stan)

 

They were really nice and friendly to me but I wasn’t surprised because I’m sure Piers wouldn’t hang out with nasty people.

Yeah, but now their secret is out, they can’t make fun of Piers anonymously anymore.

The night life here is very much like in Singapore. Just a lot of drinking and dancing and yelling in each others’ ears.

Piers and I also spent half the night getting drinks because the bar was neverendingly busy and you had to wait ages to be served. We were drinking cocktails all night so finished them fast and had to keep going back for more.

It was a nice night out. But I would probably be happier partying during the summer when I don’t have to worry about hypothermia.

Maybe one day I will get used to the weather and be able to walk out into the cold practically naked like one of them robot vampire party girls.

Hard to imagine that ever happening because I so hate extreme cold, but who knows?

Cold until cannot recognise home

Last night was the coldest yet for me! It was -9°C out with a wind chill of -19°C. Meaning when the wind blows at you, it feels like -19°C. And the wind blows a frightful lot here.

I have been avoiding my electric coat since my last post about it, and have tried to survive on my pathetic autumn coat by piling on more layers inside and wrapping my scarf around my neck and half my face.

 

Sheylara

 

It takes, like, 15 minutes to put on all my clothes, including tights, socks, leg warmers, boots, the works. And about 10 minutes to take them off.

But it has to be done. The cold is really some serious shit, especially on the face since it’s exposed, unless you want to wear a ski mask, which I don’t. When we get the -19°C wind, I feel like my skin will burn right off my face if I stay outdoors longer than I have to.

The inside of my nose and the part which connects to the eyes hurt and it’s hard to breathe.

Last night, I wore three long-sleeve layers inside, which made it four long-sleeves in total. It turned out to be just warm enough except when the wind blows, which, like I said, happens a frightful lot here.

On our way home, during the 2-minute walk from the subway to our apartment, Kay started cursing out loud in Hokkien when the wind suddenly whipped up a frenzy around us. That was hilarious because he’s usually a mild person and hardly ever curses. I ended up laughing uncontrollably all the way home, which helped to distract me from the cold a bit.

Anyway, it’s his own doing for trying to be a hero and not buying a winter coat, relying on his autumn jacket all this while, and only wearing a maximum of two layers inside.

 

Kay

 

He’s come up with a series of phrases to utter in response to the cold. Originally meant to be in Hokkien (he likes to imitate an ah beng friend of his) but translated to English because it’s funnier, although still a bit crude.

“Cold until cannot recognise home!” – He said that to me when I headed straight towards Lotteria (a burger chain) instead of turning left towards the subway station as we were meant to do.

“Cold until balls pain!” – Said amidst his impassioned curses to the -19°C wind.

“Cold until shit got sucked back in.” – He’d told me at the subway station that he was going to use the toilet first thing when we get back, but 15 minutes after getting back, he still hadn’t gone.

 

 

Anyway, today is kind of our last day here. We leave for home first thing tomorrow morning.

I think I will miss Seoul quite a bit. I’ve grown to love it here despite the cold and static electricity and despite the lack of chilli sauce in KFC.

Speaking of which, the KFC here uses a kind of paper spoon you have to fold yourself. At least, I think I folded it correctly. Seemed to be the only way.

 

KFC spoons

 

KFC coleslaw

 

I don’t like the coleslaw here. It’s watery and tastes like pickled cabbage, like those kind you get as appetisers in some Chinese restaurants.

Anyway, coming up are more random snapshots I took over the last few days, sights around Seoul I will probably miss (some not).

 

 

Saturday evening crowd heading out of the subway to Myeongdong, a hip shopping district likened to Tokyo’s Harajuku.

Peak hour in Seoul

 

 

The crowd in Myeongdong.

Myeongdong, Seoul

 

Myeongdong, Seoul

 

 

Bigass Forever 21.

Myeongdong, Seoul

 

Myeongdong, Seoul

 

 

Rotiboy in Myeongdong.

Rotiboy Seoul

 

Rotiboy Seoul

 

Rotiboy Seoul

 

 

Still in Myeongdong. BreadTalk!

BreadTalk Seoul

 

 

This woman’s phone dangly is bigger than her phone!

Seoul subway

 

 

Seoulites are stuck to their phones a lot more than Singaporeans, at least in the subway. They mostly watch TV, and many of them have antennas attached.

Seoul subway

 

 

Statue of Chun Tae-il, a 22-year-old labour activist who burnt himself to death in 1970 to protest against the inhuman exploitation of labourers during that time. His sacrifice triggered the development of labour unions, which subsequently, after a long period of time, led to the birth of democracy in South Korea.

The statue is erected around 30 metres from the spot where he immolated himself, crying out, “We are not machines!”

Chun Tae-il

 

 

Not the usual street food you see in Seoul.

Seoul street food

 

 

Disgusting wormy things that won’t stop wriggling, outside seafood restaurants in Myeongdong.

Disgusting wormy things

 

Disgusting wormy things

 

 

Nice walking advertisement.

Myeongdong, Seoul

 

 

Nice restroom in Red Mango, a coffee and dessert franchise.

Red Mango

 

Red Mango

 

 

Frozen yoghurt in Red Mango.

Red Mango

 

 

Chai tea and chapati (no dip or curry!) set which costs KRW10,000 (S$11.35). In an Indian restaurant in Insadong.

India Cafe

 

 

Fruit salad costing KRW13,500 (S$15.30). In the same restaurant.

Rip off!

India Cafe

 

 

Nice place to hang out though. Very cosy.

India Cafe

 

 

Our breakfast for the past three weeks. We’ve gone through about six boxes of these!

Post cereal

 

 

Okay, that’s all for today. Gotta get ready and set off for the hospital. Today is stitch-removing day, so I have to prepare my stomach for the photo-taking later.

Cheers!