As I left Germany, leaving my love in the bus station, there was a shed of a tear. I was heading towards the Balkan area – running off towards the EU free zone. As a Malaysian, we are privileged to be having a passport that is pretty acceptable throughout the world (180 countries to be exact). My flight was heading to the most Eastern part of the Balkans as I had to end the Balkan trip in Croatia.
Traveling through the Balkans taught me a few things, I had only two nights in Sofia, Bulgaria. I arrived pretty late in the hostel and was greeted by an old man. My first impression of this guy wasn’t all that good. My first few words to describe him were “Lazy” and “unfriendly”. Many of us tend to do that pretty fast, especially when you encounter someone who is completely different from you and your values. We often jump into conclusions and do not give space for the person to just be who they are.
As per the book that I am currently reading, – The New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. We all have this EGO that brings us into a state of mind that we are not aware of. The only practice to see ourselves better is to be aware.
I was pretty judgemental there about the old man. I have to “pause” myself and observe my judgemental self. I was obviously feeding my own ego, to find evidence that would prove that I was right about this guy. This exercise of feeding into our judgment to ensure we are “right” is the source of feeding upon the ego. With this ego growing, we grew apart from humanity – we grew apart from being compassion.
This exercise of “pause” comes pretty handily to be more aware of yourself. As soon as I was aware of my judgemental self, my entire perspective shifted and became more careful about my quick judgment towards him. I am sure we all had this moment.
“Before you were the thoughts, emotions and reactions; now you are the awareness, the conscious presence that witness those states.” – The New Earth, Eckhart Tolle.
Take a moment to reflect on this. Namaste.
I have no idea how big and culturally different state by state is in Africa. When I was in Kenya, I stayed in a smaller town called – Thika, which is approximately 45 minutes away from Nairobi. I spent my time working together with a team who works for the children. There were 15 children in this home, where the kids live with their guardians (either grandmother or aunt/uncle).
During one of the days where we visited their homes, this grandmother took out their best food in the house (eg. eggs) and asked one of the children to go purchase milk. I noticed that they didn’t have much food in the kitchen, but they took out everything that was premium to serve us. They were not worried about the amount of food they have left. They just give unconditionally – this made me reflect on a couple of things. How we are in the mindset of protecting what we have, being careful about how we go about living, ensuring things are safe. My two weeks in Thika taught me to seek true happiness, sometimes we just need to have fun and laugh.
“Laughter cures all your troubles away” – someone very wise told me in Thika.
A beautiful town is full of the most beautiful and heartwarming people. Take a Matatou, the local public transportation, which cost about USD10 to Thika from Nairobi. The experience of riding a Matatou is super fun – I love the Swahili music they play and the energy you get from the locals.
On your way back, you may also stop at the Equator.
Obviously, you would need to visit Nairobi – the capital of Kenya. We had a very short stay here in Nairobi as we were booked to head towards Masai Mara.
The overall experience in Kenya made me realize there are so many other things in life that I have not fully learn and see. There was always this judgment that Africa isn’t safe, but I am lucky to say that Kenya (for me) is the happiest place I’ve felt on earth. People are just simply amazing and happy! Makes me miss them so much writing this… See you all soon! Sending you all lots of love and kisses!
I believe that every country, every city teaches me, coach me to find more things about myself. It is still a constant change on my end to reflect – reflecting is the only way I get to learn. All three times that I was in Paris, it was the occasion of romance.
Talking about romance, we all have a different perspective of what romance is. I certainly had an image in my head of what romance is. With that definition of what romance is in my head, there was no room for any other definition.
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I have to admit that I don’t enjoy France that much, but it definitely has beautiful places outside of the commercialised cities.
Took a bus from San Sebastian, Spain over to Bordeaux, France. I chose to come here as I previously work with someone from Bordeaux and I wanted to see her cute town. I absolutely loved it!
MANY PEOPLE ASK ME – ARE YOU TRAVELING ALONE?
It is probably the second most common question people ask me. Are you seriously traveling alone? YES – it is possible. I will be honest, you are never alone.
After arriving Galway, I decided to do the day trips. Did not have time to mingle with others from the hostel, I decided to head out to party by myself. Obviously, being a female traveller has its perks – you get many help along the way (as my backpack was super big for an Asian lady to carry). People often offer to help carry my backpack.
As I was walking into the bar – there was a random guy asking me about the time – I had a weird feeling that this isn’t that simple. And I was right – he then started a conversation about are you alone? Can I join you and your friends at the bar? Here I was trying to make an escape plan – I got creative and head fast on our way to the bar counter and asked a guy who was buying a drink to just pretend talking to me. It worked! He left.
I then ordered my favorite drink – Guinness and was sipping through my drink. Enjoying the live music and trying not to look like a sad loner. I quickly caught a girl who was also standing alone with her drink and started to cheers with her. Soon enough another guy and a girl (who are my lifetime friends now) joined and the fun night started.
Moral of the story : You are never alone when you are doing your solo travel. You just have to go outside of your box and make yourself feel uncomfortable sometimes to meet people. If you do not like your situation, you are in charge to walk out of it strategically. How your travel trip – who you meet – what happens … all these are within your hands. You create your own destiny.
TIPS TO MEET PEOPLE
That is it for now. Safe travels!
Dublin for me was a beautiful capital city of Ireland, it is a typical capital – bars, restaurants, modern city has to offer. They have nature to offer too – parks and rivers are just simply breath-taking. Stayed here as I had to meet up with an old colleague. I call it my HAPPY TOWN as there are plenty of live awesome music, whiskey and Guinness around. It is all about DRINK DRINK DRINK! Local whiskeys to try : Bushmills and everything else.
DAY TRIPS – Giant’s Causeway
I loved Galway, I loved Doolin even more. Small town but you still get your music, Guinness and Whiskeys! I love the day trips organized to visit the other towns and it is SUPER AMAZING. Must visit!
I LOVED IRELAND! Irish people have a special place in my heart.
I have been to Italy many times now, I’ve visited the popular high traffic commercialized cities such as Rome, Venice, Florence and Milan. This time – I’m taking time to explore food through the West Coast of Italy traveling from South of France and head towards Africa from Sicily. Italy has always been the Eat Pray Love country for me, I took my time traveling through Italy. It would be endless long to write down my entire journey, but here would be my travel tips in summary.
Turin is a beautiful peaceful place, I’ve only stayed 2 nights here exploring the town. Food is AMAZING.
CT is such a lovely beautiful place, it’s a must-go spot in Italy. If you love the ocean, beautiful views, hiking – this is the place for you.
Ensure you get this Cinque Terre Card which allows you to use of ecological park buses, access to all trekking paths, wifi internet connection and unlimited train travel on the Levanto – Cinque Terre – La Spezia Line.
from 1 april to 1 november:
1 day Cinque Terre Train Card € 16
2 days Cinque Terre Train Card € 29
3 days Cinque Terre Train Card € 41
Modena is another food town, here you would find the ultimate source for Balsamic Sauce, a town that celebrates food and history.
Naples or Napoli is the city of Pizza! It offered me amazing food, amazing people and amazing views of the cities. There was definitely a lot more to explore here – and I would recommend to stay at least 4 nights here to explore day trips to Capri or Pompeii.
I lived in Palermo, Sicily for about 2 months, here are some of my fav joints and tips.
If you are withdrawing from a Singapore Account – some ATMs would give you a higher credit of withdrawal – check around on the amount to withdraw before the actual withdrawal.
There are many must try dishes here in Sicily. Caponata, Arancini, Cannoli are some of the important dishes you should try. Living here and having the locals show me different dishes – my two favourite local dish to eat would be – Sicilian Tuna Pasta and Tuna Meatball. They have it in most of the restaurants.
From Sicily, I departed with a Grimaldi ferry to Tunisia – take note that they do not have Tax Free counters here.
That’s all folks! Italy is amazing and beautiful – I hope you enjoy it as I do.
PATTY’S KARE KARE
Ready in 30 minutes
Serves 8 people
3 Tablespoons Canola Oil
3 Garlic Cloves (cubes)
1 Medium Onion (sliced)
1 Banana Blossom
1-2 Tablespoon of Achuete or Annato Powder
2 cups of Coconut water (pure from Coconut)
1 cup of Olive water
3 cup of water
2 eggplants, sliced
½ Pumpkin (diced)
1 Hand full of Mushroom (diced)
1 Carrot (diced)
1 cup of Almond Milk
4 Tablespoon of Peanut Butter Creme
½ Tablespoon of Soya Sauce
1 Teaspoon of Salt
½ Tablespoon of Pepper
1 Teaspoon of Chilli Flake
½ Tablespoon of All Purpose Flour
Protein Source : A bowl of Tofu/ Mung Beans or White Beans
1 Small bunch long beans, cut to 2 inch slices, ends removed
2 Kale (cut)
3-6 Tablespoon of fermented black bean sauce (as condiment)
In a large pot, saute garlic and onion with oil.
Add banana blossom, achuete till fragrant.
Add Eggplant, coconut water, olive water, and water.
Add in all other vegetables (except long beans and kale), let it simmer for 5mins.
Add in Almond Milk, Peanut Butter and stir.
Add in Soya Sauce, Salt, Pepper, Chilli Flakes to taste.
Adjust seasoning by adding more almond milk or peanut butter.
Add in All Purpose Flour, adjust to consistency.
Add long beans and kale and protein source (tofu/ white beans/ mung beans). Put to boil and turn off heat.
Serve hot with rice / quinoa / millet and black bean sauce on the side.
Protein can be added into the rice instead – as per above illustration, Millet with Mung beans and all the additional vegetables.
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Egypt teaches me so many aspects of myself.
I met someone when I went to Italy; he was the seed of my spiritual journey. When we were together, we have learned a lot about each other and ourselves through time that we shared. When I had to leave EU due to the VISA, we had a period of the long-distance relationship. I’m no fan of the long-distance relationship. In the end, we broke things off. It was a period of confusion, but it was the beginning of my spiritual journey of getting to know myself. A wise woman told me this many years ago that I need to learn from my relationships – but I was too arrogant to listen to it – wanting to just go with the flow. So when I reflected on what this relationship taught me – I think the biggest lesson was that there are different ways to truly love someone. Sometimes the right way to love them is to let them go.