Saturday, March 14, 2020

Bulgaria Trip During the State of Emergency!


If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (and can see my instastories), you’d probably know that I’m currently in Bulgaria. But I’m not just in Bulgaria, I’m in Bulgaria while it’s at a state of emergency due to the virus Bulgaria. Funny enough, the reason why I was okay with Bulgaria was because at the time I planned the trip, there were zero cases and I thought, not a lot of people visit Bulgaria so I wasn’t expecting anything to happen. I guess I took that for granted and didn’t check right before I left because today is the first day of the emergency! Bare in mind - Bulgaria only has 0.4% cases in comparison to the UK.

I arrived into the airport at 3AM this morning with the intention of waiting at the airport until the first public transport but hey hey hey, the airport closes after our flight lands. Therefore, I didn’t have a choice but to find my way into the centre which is pretty straight forward tbf. I took a taxi and told the driver that I’d like to go to a 24/7 McDonalds but on the way there, we were talking and he asked me where I was going etc. Then suggested that I should go to the central bus station because it’s definitely open 24/7 and he doesn’t want to send me somewhere that may be closed. Agreeing and grateful that he was nice enough to have told me that, I spent the rest of the night at the bus station, talking to a bulgarian guy about Malaysia, life, career and... the corona virus. He gave me some strength and said I shouldn’t worry too much about my career because it seems like I have my life set. I then left for a comfier seat and spent the rest of the night watching the Formula 1 netflix series (it’s so good). 

At some point in the morning, I realised that I wanted to have a bit of fresh air and decided to head to Starbucks that opens at 7AM while waiting for another cafe that was supposed to open at 10AM to fill my time before my 11AM walking tour. I bought my bus ticket to Bansko for 4PM, stored my luggage and headed out to the Starbucks in the middle of town. I used the Metro which looked as if it came out from a movie and took time to appreciate it.



As soon as I got to Starbucks I realised that it was still closed and it didn’t seem like it would open and I thought - what’s going on here. I walked around the place and saw a sign in front of a restaurant that said something about a national emergency and decided to search it up. That was when I realised... (the person sitting behind me is coughing, should I run off?). That was when I realised, the Bulgarian government decided that today would be the first day of that and all schools would be closed and people aren’t allowed out unless to go grocery shopping. 


And so, I was stuck. But you know what, I went around to see a few things anyway just because they were all nearby. At the same time, I still had some hope so I headed to the cafe I wanted to go to. Luckily, the shop owner arrived as I was heading off and told me that they won’t be opening today. That had rested some uncertainties within me. I then decided that right, since I can’t go anywhere in Sofia, I might as well head straight to Bansko. (She’s coughing again, should I really run off?) 

So I took the tram this time and went to the central train station because it looks newer than the bus station for the toilet. Reading reviews about the toilets, I had kept my expectations very low but was met with a very clean toilet. A lesson to everyone, don’t base your life on reviews, experience it and make your own judgement. Eceh.

I then headed to the bus station - with a lot of worry, mind you, and asked to change my ticket and/or to get a new one and lady said two words - no bus. NO BUS? WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY NO BUS? YOU CANT JUST CANCEL 3 BUSES STRAIGHT LIKE THAT. NO BUS? Of course I was confused, I was again... stuck. She had said the earliest bus would be at 2 and it wasn’t a decision I could make, to buy it or not? So I called the first person that I knew would pick up my call and could help me with my thought process - Kak Aisyah. She told me to save my money and just wait.


And so I waited. While waiting, an announcement came up so I asked a bulgarian lady what it meant and she translated it for me and then asked what announcement I was looking for - bless her! In return, I minded her bag while she went for the toilet. And so I continued waiting.... and got restless so I went to platform of the cancelled bus - not because I didn’t trust them but because as Graham L. had once said - you can’t trust everything you see. Heh? Did I just contradict myself?
Some random lady just came and approached me but then walked away... contemplating whether to continue or not... after I responded... she ok? Maybe she’s nervous? Maybe she doesn’t speak the same language? I digress.

I bought coffee and still waited and then realised, why am I spending so much time waiting and overthinking! I have a Plan B which is to take a shuttle to Bansko and a Plan C which is to stay in Sofia. So I realised the only way to stop it is by being productive - which is why, everybody, I now have a whole blogpost! 

It just turned 12.30, I have 1.5 hours left until the bus would arrive. Worried that tickets my sell out, I went to the counter and said please may I buy the 2PM ticket to Bansko? But she wasn’t really concentrating on me because there was a lady next to me that was frustrated with the language barrier. But then I continued, “but I have my 4.45PM ticket and I’d really like the 2PM”. So indicated with her hand, “lemme have it, dah-ling.” I gave her my ticket and she swapped it for the 2PM one. I was tempted to say I LOVE YOU, THANK YOU FOR MAKING ME FEEL BETTER but I thought it wasn’t appropriate as she was still really focused on the frustrated lady next to me. 

And that’s what happened in the first half of my day in Bulgaria. Also did I tell you that Trevor Noah’s Tour been postponed? I am quite sad but it’s ok. 

Right, I’m now contemplating whether to walk all the way to the train station’s toilet or to experience the bus station’s toilet. I’ll do the bus station’s and I’ll let you know if the reviews are right - and that it’s better than the train station’s.

Until the next time I find mysef overthinking and needing to do something productive.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Christmas Holiday


Christmas holiday planning went from Scotland to Wales to Paris to just Thorpe Park but ended up with spending time together in Maidenhead. As a summary, we spent 3 full days together talking, cooking, eating, playing games, dancing, eating, eating and more eating. You can see where I'm going with this.

I would've thought that my holiday would be boring if someone had told me that all we're going to do is stay at home but it was such an amazing holiday; I'm actually having withdrawals from it. So here I am, writing about what we did and how we celebrated our days off while I wait for a potential housemate to come over to view the house.

Right, so I got distracted because someone came over, three weeks later, here I am trying to pick up where I left off. We had Zariq and Yen over throughout Christmas and Roaa and Adham came for Christmas dinner. With a lot more hands to cook and knowing what to eat just made everything so nice.

My holiday started after lunch on Tuesday and when I got home, I cleaned up the house a bit while waiting for Syahiirah and Zariq to come back with groceries. On our list, our first meal together would be bangers and mash for Christmas Eve dinner because we wanted to really immerse in the culture - food included. But because we were still missing some ingredients, we waited for Yen to arrive before heading out. Her journey was horrendous because of all the train disruptions. I mean it's fairly easy to get to Maidenhead but apparently, not on the day when everyone would be travelling. That aside, we went out to town, got McDonalds but also more food, some decorations and drinks. Yen and I got ourselves a santa hat to feel a little bit more festive.


Because it was bangers and mash, we hardly had to do anything so that was pretty ideal. I also made pesto pastry shaped as a christmas tree because I had it in Vienna when we were at Gerda's. We also made cinnamon buns which was fun - for me at least because I didn't have to touch the dough at all! Syahiirah and Yen were involved in the messy part and I was quite happy about that because I hate that part about making anything bread!


But our Christmas eve dinner was a quality one! I believe we may have had jazz playing in the background. You might not know but Syahiirah, Zariq and Yen are all Aisyah's friends so I can't say that I knew them. But that night, we got to know each other - with Yen leading the conversations and getting us into thought provoking discussions on our emotions and personality. We went through 50 questions to fall in love or something similar to that. There was so much bonding that night, I extremely appreciated it. It was such a great start to the holidays.


On Christmas day itself, I woke up early so I had time to plant succulents for Laura W., Hannah and Holly. I didn't realise how hard planting is but I think some people are just born with it and I'm not. That aside, I really enjoyed making them and they turned out pretty which was my main goal. When everyone woke up, we had breakfast which were 'leftovers' from the night before. So as you may have probably already guessed, we had eggs and sausages and cinnamon buns. The rest of the day was spent preparing the Christmas dinner with festive songs playing throughout the day. We watched movies and played monopoly deal (my favourite game). But really, aside from the cooking we basically just lazed around.


Closer to dinner time, Roaa and Adham came by and I just loved the entire vibe. Roaa brought gifts which was the sweetest! But also, she brought soup. And I'm not a soup person but Roaa makes the best soups fullstop. So I had a lot of that too, despite me being quite full. We then played games before they headed home. But that was not the end of our night. I was quite glad and hoped that there was no one next door at the time because we laughed and were just loud in general. We had some songs on, we danced, we sang out loud, I basically had the time of my life. We played charades and I can't remember what else but we probably seemed drunk if anyone was looking in.


Boxing day was spent deciding whether to shop or not but we did a lot of sitting around shopping online but I didn't get anything. Again, breakfast was the leftovers so I had some extra pastry which I topped with pesto, chicken, tomatoes and cheese which turned out lovely. And if I must be totally honest, I can't actually remember what we had for lunch but we were sort of tired of the food we were eating. And thought, you know what, we sort of miss home and we just had to make nasi lemak. And so nasi lemak we made! It tasted amazing. They made roasted chicken that tasted fried but wasn't and it just blew my mind because sedap gilz nak mampz. I think at this point of the holiday we were calmer, less excited and was just relaxing because WE'RE OLD.


The day that I dreaded the most then arrived. It was time for people to leave - not because I halau but because people miss their homes and I totally understand that. Yen decided to go home but Zariq wanted to stay over for another night so rather than do nothing, there was one thing on my holiday list that hadn't been crossed out yet which was going on a walk. So that we did. We got an uber to Marlow, walked by the river and then just went around town to do some shopping and other things. We had dinner at the Botanist, my main meal was disgusting. Had like half of it and just couldn't eat anymore. But they do serve amazing chips so I'd go there for drinks and snacks but wouldn't go again for a proper meal. We then had to have dessert and had the most amazing carrot cheese cake at Baroosh. Headed home afterwards to watch a movie and ordered fast food because of that disappointing meal. My cheeseburger that night was amazing.


And following that, Zariq went home and then the rest of the holiday was just like any other day just that I was on house arrest because I had an assignment due. It was such a waste of time. I should've just gone out because I didn't actually start my assignment until a few days before it was due. I never learn, do I?


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Roommate left


It's Saturday evening and I'm on the couch with Vagabond playing on the tv. I have spring rolls in the oven to be eaten with the sambal Aisyah made a batch of before she left. I'm deciding whether to steam some buns but I think I've over eaten during lunch.

Aisyah's gone home and Laura's moved to her mum's. There were a lot of boxes around the house for a while; it was clear that people were moving out. There are actually still a lot of boxes in the house waiting to be shipped to Malaysia just that the shipping company hasn't texted to come yet.

It had been a while since I had a roommate before Aisyah moved in. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be just that there were a lot of things in the room. We had to buy a bedside table and a clothing rack just to keep everything neat. While she was around, the house was sparkling clean because she vacuumed and polished the whole house nearly every day! In addition to that, the plants in the bedroom were kept alive which had always been difficult for me. Lunch would also be ready when I got home for lunch be it what we cooked the night before or something she's made in the morning.



In the past few months, I've had extremely good food. Think about super difficult dishes like eid food, nasi lemak, nasi tomato, nasi dagang, Malaysian curry and things like that! Basically, food that I wouldn't be able to make myself. I would always have seconds and I think that's why I'm currently fat.

But what I really liked about her being my roommate is the fact that I could moan about work when I come home for lunch and dinner. Sometimes, I'd even ask her to help me out with certain things when I don't know how architects work. Like do architects have to draw sections or do the engineers? Also how to reply emails when I know I'd have to send something in late (not an ideal situation). My bad habit also died because she used to point it out every time I did it.

My spring rolls just came out from the oven, it would taste better fried but I don't fry things unlike Aisyah. But I think both of us have agreed that we'd rather live with each other than anyone else.

Anyway, it's been nearly a week since Aisyah left. I've been eating leftovers and japanese curry the past few days. Can you imagine how much adapting that took! From amazing food to eating the same food every day? I also don't keep track of home time as I used to and would stay at work a bit later which I rarely did when she was around. I guess it's true what they say, it's easier to become a workaholic when there's no one at home.

I now come home after work feeling like I have too much time in my hands, looking for other things to do. I guess now is the time to start exploring new hobbies again! There's still that Pulang song which I still haven't finished learning how to play on the keyboard. And I still have to figure out how I'm going to fund my gap year.

Oh and have I told all of you that I spent the whole day cleaning! I now only have the dishwasher to wash which I haven't touched for the past few months and after I'm done with that, the house would be as good as new; fresh for my new housemate who has actually already moved in.

Here's to eating the same food every day, watching dramas alone, staying at work late, new hobbies and hoping that my old bad habit doesn't come back. 🥃

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Summer Holiday '19 (Dubrovnik)

Spending my Sunday at home, I thought it was about time that I start writing about my summer holiday. I took 3 weeks off this year, it got people at work jealous; shocked that I was allowed such a long holiday, bless Gary for approving that. I had an amazing holiday in Croatia, Bosnia and around Southern England with my family. Thanks to Aisyah for being our travel agent, it was a smoother holiday than the one I planned last year. 

Our holiday was based on the cheapest flight in and out and so we decided to do Dubrovnik, Sarajevo, Konjic, Mostar and lastly Split. We flew into Croatia via Norwegian Air and out on Scandinavian Airlines. Hakim came a few days before we were due to fly off and he went around  Berkshire with Aisyah while I was at work preparing for my long leave. 

Our holiday started with a train into London, meeting up with Zariq for CocoCurry and of course - Yolkin. We then took the train to the airport where we waited for a while until security opened and then headed in to get a meal deal from Boots. Hakim went a bit crazy and got 4 sandwiches thinking that we were going on a 9 hour flight (I have no idea where he got that idea). 


Flight was smooth and I got 3 seats to myself because we were sat at the back which was a great start to the trip. Arriving into Dubrovnik, we got onto a bus, I sat on the left side and got to see the amazing sea view along the way to the old town. Arriving there, we lugged our luggage and dropped it off at our accommodation which was just off the main street. 


Walking into the old town through the city walls felt like walking into a theme park. The sun was shining down on us, which wasn't a great feeling because it got too warm to be comfortable but as soon as we got to see the sea, I moaned a lot less. It was amazing. I just genuinely enjoyed being there. 


After cooking/having lunch at home, we went out to explore the town where we went through alleys, climbed stairs and got lost. And after that, I managed to convince Aisyah to walk 30-45 minutes to see the sunset by the beach because Hakim's always up for it. Hakim and I swam in the sea, in the sunset; which was a dream come true because my parents would have never allowed us to do that (because you shouldn't be out during maghrib). It was definitely the highlight of Dubrovnik. 


We woke up early the next day to get onto the city walls, I had to get the 1 Day Dubrovnik Card because only certain student IDs were accepted like the ones from Totum. I got it online just because it was cheaper to. I was mesmerised by the view from the walls for the first few minutes but then the sun just got to me. It was still amazing to have walked all the way around the city so I would definitely recommend. We then took a break and explored the museums. In the evening, we climbed Fort Lovrijenac and had our afternoon snack up there while enjoying the view. It was beautiful. 

We wanted to head to Sarajevo early the next day but it was sold out. So, always book your bus tickets early even if people tell you that you don't need to! Therefore, we had to get the one that left a bit later which was fine since everyone then had no choice but to play monopoly deal with me.  

We then got on the bus where we had to pay for luggage and the journey was one to remember but I'll continue the next part of the journey next time!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Eid 2019

Expecting Eid this year to be very hambar, I'm surprised it wasn't! The scale of everything was much smaller than last year and though I decided to not take the day off on Eid itself, I did do very Eid things on the weekends that followed.

I can't say if it's bad or good but Ramadhan as a whole just felt like a normal month to me just that I was on a diet. Friends and colleagues were astounded with how I was actually able to do it and some was even worried about my health. I had iftar twice at my colleague, Roaa's place. I was so happy to just have been invited over for iftar and she was the sweetest to have invited knowing that I was doing Ramadhan on my own here. I also went to Aisyah's place a few times and went for an iftar-do at her friend's house. Malaysian food would always bring you back home for awhile.

The day of Eid itself was uneventful except that I had my braces done on the day! Rest assured, I had Eid food the day before courtesy of my new roommate. I had eaten soup and liquids for awhile until I discovered (out of desperation for Eid food) that I could actually eat a lot of food!

We were over at Abang Lan and Kak Ida's and I had lodeh and sambal kacang - obviously tambahed a few times. And that was my official first day of raya! We went around London, enjoying the sun with our baju kurung. Talking about baju kurung, I finally got one that in a design that I've wanting since forever, unfortunately, it was all black and on certain angles, it'd look like a jubah. Which was not what I was expecting.

On the second week of raya, we held our own open house. We had soto because lets be honest, it's one of the easiest things to make. Had Abang Lan and Kak Ida, Aisyah's friends from Oxford, the castle court gang and my work friends come over. It was a bit all over the place at first since everyone suddenly decided to come at the same time! But then once I stopped worrying, things just fell into place. Here are some photos from the day:







Thursday, May 2, 2019

Got through


It's been 7 months since I started working but it feels like I just started yesterday. Minus the nervousness of going to work, anxiety of being around people and not knowing anything at all, of course. The first few months had been a journey for me and now that I've gotten through it, I don't really hold back on telling everyone I meet about it!

It's very interesting to remember about how just a few months ago, I wouldn't go a single week without crying in the shower. And how I'd think ten thousand times before and after talking to anyone. How I would always be in this bubble of insecurities where I'm always thinking that everything I did was wrong. I wish I knew what had changed so I can tell all of you going through difficult times what it was but I really couldn't pin point it.

But for all that matters, I love my life right now. I love the days when I'm able to sleep in for a bit longer in the morning but I also enjoy the days when I'd be up at 7am all fresh ready to start my day. I love how evenings don't feel like forever anymore but I also appreciate the days when they do because it feels like I have some extra time for myself. I love how I get excited for work but I also acknowledge that there will be days when I won't be.

I guess, in some ways, I survived it but I don't want to go through it again...
whatever 'it' is

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Poland... again!



For all of you who don't know, I went to Zakopane, Poland again! Initially, I planned to go somewhere else I've never been to before but seeing as I was 'solo-travelling', I decided to go somewhere I was familiar with. Whilst planning the trip, however, my sister decided to come with me. But guess who cancelled! That aside, I LOVED MY TRIP, so I'm going to share it with all of you.

Spending


Throughout my trip, I told myself that I wasn't going to restrict my spending and therefore, I bought and did everything I wanted to. What I didn't do, though, was I didn't convert any money and just brought with me whatever my sister had left from her previous trip. Instead, I used my Starling card and paid using my card for almost everything. However, there were two times when I needed to cash out money and for both times, I got unlucky and had to pay a transaction fee thinking that it was a new thing they're doing. BUT, YOU CAN GET ATMs THAT WON'T CHARGE YOU! So don't be lazy, search for a free one!   I roughly spent £350 for accommodation, transport, travel insurance, food and activities. 

Getting there



I flew in and out of Katowice on RyanAir which costed me £57.44 for a return from Stansted. Fortunately, my long time best friend, Hana, was in London at the same time so, I crashed at her hotel room in London, saving me about £20 on the journey to the airport. Things were pretty uneventful as I made sure to get the coach from Katowice to Zakopane a few hours after I arrived, I prebooked my ticket as I was unsure how busy it would be. I paid for my local bus ticket from the airport to town using my contactless so don't worry, that magic card will work. 

Accommodation



I had a pretty tough time selecting my accommodation because obviously, every room would be more expensive if I were to stay alone. Therefore, I was contemplating on what to prioritise - distance, comfort and/or price. I went with distance and price - though I didn't get the cheapest place, I regretted not spending a little bit more. The place I stayed at (OW Jaskolka) served really good breakfast, had a big bathroom, came with a balcony, was close to the city and was quite spacious but they didn't have the comfiest bed. 

Activities



Yall know why I went to the mountains, it was to snowboard so that's what I did. On my first full day there, I spent half the day snowboarding at Nosal (because I'm not very good), fell a few times and hit my head on the slope. But, after the first time I went up the button lift - where my snowboard flew across the slope and into a ditch because I didn't fasten it properly - I no longer felt uncomfortable using one. A guy even congratulated me for using it so well (he probably saw what happened the first time). 

On my second full day, I decided to give skiing a chance so I went to Syzmoszkowa for skiing lessons and I'm so glad I did. I was able to somehow get over my fear of heights (again) and went down a slope that I was extremely scared of because it looks hella steep. It was all thanks to my instructor though, if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be able to get down. 

On my first ski down, I made the mistake of not looking at my instructor and instead, I looked down and I FREAKED OUT. I lost control but then he got me to concentrate again and I was ok after that. An hour later, I skied down non stop until the park closed. 

After all of that, I decided to take the lift up to the highest slope to enjoy the views. On the way, I saw people walking down the slope and I wasn't surprised. It was extremely steep, though I do hope for a day when I'd have the guts to snowboard/ski down it. 



On my last half day in Zakopane, I had to decide whether to go for another snowboarding lesson (had one before my previous Poland trip) or to go on a hike. I made an instagram poll and it leaned towards snowboarding... but I decided to hike to Dolina Strazyska. It was torturous. I should've prepared better and got myself spikes. So I struggled, and struggled and nearly gave up but I didn't. At one point during the hike, I had to convince myself that the worst that could happen is me falling and dying. So with that, I gathered up the courage and basically ice-skated the rest of the way. It went pretty well. 

Food



I was pescatarian whilst I was in Poland, so, I had WHOLE trouts which surprised me a lot. I'm not a fan of having to eat things that I would have to debone but I survived! I also had some potato pancakes but because I don't eat fried food much anymore, the oiliness got a bit too overwhelming. 
I had grilled cheese and dumplings. The grilled cheese, I was a fan of but I'd prefer it if the dumplings were crispy. I basically just had two meals a day because I would eat breakfast at around 10 and then I would be out on the mountains the whole day until it was dinner time. 

Pros and cons


I thought I would feel pretty lonely but I really didn't have time to feel lonely except for those few minutes whilst waiting for my food to arrive and waiting for the bus to come. And there were moment when I would wish that my friends were around just because I couldn't deny that they'd make the situation less boring. There were also times when I would feel pretty scared whilst walking at night but I think that came from the trauma of what happened in Islington. 

However, travelling alone was amazing just because the only person I could be upset with throughout the trip was myself. It felt really good knowing that all the decisions are my own and that if anything goes wrong, then there's no one to blame but me. This all taught me to embrace myself and my decisions. In addition to that, I got to wake up, sleep and eat whenever I felt like it (without having to consider anyone else). In it all, I would definitely do it again.