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?