Places I Called ‘Home’ in 2013

Places I Called Home in 2013

2013 was a great year for travel. When I look at my nerdy country count, I am surprised to see that I only visited five new countries this year (Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Australia and Singapore). But, I went back to a couple of old favourites and found myself packing and unpacking my life five times.

Truth be told: I am a little burnt out from moving around so much this year, but I wouldn’t trade my blessed 2013 for anyone else’s. (Except maybe Jennifer Lawrence’s. But how much I want her life is another story for another blogpost.)

Highlights of 2013 included snorkelling in the southern Great Barrier Reef, wearing at Dirndl at Karneval in Koln, having a picnic on top of a glacier in the French Alps, almost capsizing a boat in the canals of Amsterdam (with all my friends in it!), seeing a koala, living in the most amazing apartment on Coogee Beach in Sydney, and managing to completely fill up passport (took me less than three years).

Passports

The concept of ‘home’ changed throughout the year as I lived in five amazing cities in 2013. ‘Tis the time for the annual year-end recap of places where I received a postcard or two in the past year.  Continue reading

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Neighbourhood Watch: Kampong Glam & Arab Street

Formerly the seat of Malay royalty in Singapore, Kampong Glam has been a Malay-Muslim quarter since that 1800s. Thankfully, centuries later, the shophouses still maintain their facades with brightly-coloured walls and carved windows. Landmarked by the shimmering dome of Masjid Sultan, this neighbourhood is bustling with street vendors trying to lure you into their textile shops during the day, and shisha bar-owners eagerly inviting you into their establishments after dusk.

Arab Quarter, and particularly Haji and Bali lanes, are one of my favourite hangouts in Singapore for the irresistible Middle-Eastern vibe (and food!) coupled with a variety of live music venues to chose from on this small stretch. One can spot the local trendsetters window-shopping at one of the fashion-forward boutiques along Haji Lane. Plus, it’s Disneyland for shisha smokers with the sweet smell of flavoured tobacco permanently enveloping the area.

Neighbourhood Watch: Clarke Quay

I love colour.

Whether I am looking at graffiti-laden walls, busy textiles, bright flora or fluorescent marine life, it’s my natural affinity to pick up my camera and aim it at vibrant colours.

One of the most bustling, boldly-coloured areas of Singapore is the historical Clarke Quay. Named after Singapore’s second governor, Sir Andrew Clarke, this riverside quay is not home to a fair number of restaurants and bars. The magnetic colours and the cool vibe of this places attracts an unhealthy number of tourists, like myself.

Check it out through my lens:

Neighbourhood Watch: Chinatown and Ann Siang Hill

The haze is gone (for most part), revealing this vibrant city that I am temporarily calling home. Since I’ve spent my weekdays working and my weekends settling in, I haven’t had much time to check out the touristy spots in Singapore. But, you don’t need to be a tourist to be awed by the colourful liveliness of this place. These are the sights I pass by everyday during my walk from Chinatown MRT to my office on Ann Siang Hill. Not a bad way to start the day, right?

Continue reading

The first hazy days in Singapore

It’s been a week since I landed on the little red dot. I spent the first two days trying to hunt down my luggage because an elusive Mr. Chen took home my blue suitcase mistaking it for his. After I got my bag full of shorts and T-shirts back, I got excited to enjoy the Singaporean sunshine.

Singapore hazeBut, the sun has been struggling to shine its light on me and the other 5ish million Singaporeans because the city is enveloped in a thick cloud of haze. Winds are blowing the uncontrolled fires from the “slash and burn” cultivation of Sumatra onto Singapore. Take a look at these amazing NASA images that capture the fumes blowing from Indonesia to Singapore.

Singaporeans are no strangers to the haze from their neighbours drifting over their city, but it has never been this bad. The highest Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) record was set in 1997 with a value of 226. To contextualize the situation, a PSI of 300 is considered hazardous; 400 is considered lethal for the elderly and ill. Today, the PSI soared up to 402. Continue reading