First time in the City of Canals – Venice

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I love winter. I love travelling during winter. I love when it is a non-peak season since it means less crowd. Also, walking would not be an issue since I won’t be sweating that much in the cold. Less sweat, less heat, less complains from my side.

I landed at the right time to just have a quick shower and change to explore the floating city. That’s all the time I have under 20 hours. Took the next shuttle bus from the hotel out to the city centre.

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The first view we were greeted upon arriving. Of course, photography session started immediately. This was only the beginning of our journey to get to the main square. It seems to me that there’s no other way to get to the main square only by foot if travelling on land. Obviously, you can get around through the canals provided you hire a boat or own one or manage to hitch a ride. Walking through the city is like walking in a maze. So many small lanes with so many turns. Perfect place to play hide and seek?

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There are so many beautiful architectures just in this floating city. The only problem is that I don’t know any history of it, just could admire them as I walked past them.

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It would be a treat to be here in Venice during their Carnival of Venice. All the masquerades and costumes would definitely be a sight to behold. Just look at the display at their windowpane, all the glitters and elegantly made masks.

As we make our way to the main square, we could chance upon the golden hour.

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Got to catch a moment of gondolas manoeuvring through the canals.

About 1.5 hours later, we’ve finally made our way to the main square – San Marco.

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Greeted with Basilica di San Marco.

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Made our way pass the square to see if we could still catch some of the golden hour in pictures.

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Time and sun position were not on our side. The sun slowly setting beside us while the temperature is slowly going down with the sun. Savour the last moments of having some light before we went to find dinner.

I would really want to come here again with the people of liked-minded. I’ve enjoyed half my time here while the other half was waiting for others to take photos till they are happy, you know what I mean when you’re travelling with a group of people (a group of more than 3). So I will come back again to Venice, maybe during their carnival period?

Till then, stay sane!

The Bubble Tea Factory @ Singapore #TBTF

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A pop-up store about bubble tea was up in Singapore. I didn’t even know about this until a colleague mentioned it while we were on our way to Singapore. With our usual conversation topics that we go through with each trip, one of them would be ‘What are your plans at xxx?’ or ‘What will you be doing at xxx?’. That is how I came to know that there is a pop-up event about bubble tea.

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My first impression upon hearing the name is to expect a place that shows the process of making a cup of bubble tea or a showcase of a mini version of bubble tea factory as the name implies. It was not what I have expected. Nonetheless, I find the even organized and have space to move around. Don’t like crowded places. Let me explain as I go with this story.

By the time I am there for the pop-up event, it was towards the end of their opening period, more like they have extended it for another month. Hence, I was able to go. As I’ve mentioned that it is not a showcase of the making of bubble tea, simply it’s a place for Instagram-worthy photos. They have different stations set up to take pictures. The way they handle the crowd is by having groups of 5 going in each time. Don’t know what is the time interval between the groups. However, when I was in there, there’s lots of time and space to move around and take photos. The staffs there would even come up to me first to help with photo taking as I was there solo. So it wasn’t a problem to go there alone. They do have a little starter pack that comes with before the start of the bubble tea factory journey. Too bad I ruined mine later that day. There are a few challenges to complete to get snacks. What I really wanted to keep were their collectable cards. They have some famous quotes or scenes whereby they replace the characters with bubble tea.

The first station had me to do my first challenge – take a photo upside down.

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That’s the easiest and recommended way to get the picture taken. The introvert in me just got to bring up the courage to be thick skin and amuse myself with funny expressions pictures. With this picture, I was able to claim a free snack.

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Bubble Milk Tea flavoured popcorn and biscuits.

The sets were built prettily. At least I didn’t have to wait long to take pictures. Probably just needed to wait for a person for two before it’s my turn.

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Wrecking ball collage

The only station that has a longer waiting period is their secret room. Let me show you what’s the secret behind the door.

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The first area including the secret room is one of my favourites.

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The ball pit is quite big. Not what I would expect. Could easily fit 4 groups of 4-5 people at one time.

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Time to get my free bubble milk tea. This time it is sponsored by Miss Tea. They have different bubble milk tea sponsors throughout their event period.

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While I was getting ready to sip my bubble tea, one of the co-founders of the event came to talk to me. Well, I didn’t know that until he mentioned as he was trying to get some on-ground feedback. This was when I know that this is their first-ever event that they produced. They did get a lot of setbacks and rejection just to bring the idea to life. I mentioned my slight disappointment that it wasn’t a bubble tea factory process. I was told that they were inspired to do so, however, getting a licence from the government for F&B is not that easy in Singapore.

My favourite station is tea terminal.

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I saw some of the photos that were taken here and I totally have forgotten about this station after having a prolonged conversation. Took a couple of quick photos as I was rushing to get back to my hotel. Would be really nice to have a photo with me in it. Oh well.

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Came to the last station and it’s feedback time with some lovely questions to answer to hang at the wall. They have a photo booth area where you can print out 1 picture of your choice from Instagram by using their hashtag. Got my photo printed and straight away deleted the picture as it wasn’t curated properly.

Last but not least, I got myself a little souvenir to bring back.

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A bubble tea plushie!

Bought my ticket online to avoid being sent away if I were to walk-in. Cost me around 24 SGD and spend about 45 mins there since I’m there alone. If I knew what would be in there, I would still pay the amount just to see what’s going on. After all, I’ve been to Singapore so many times now that it would be nice to have something else to do.

Till then, stay sane!

After much frustration

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I did it!

I’m proud of myself to be able to reformat the laptop all on my own and upgrade the MacOS. Normally I would rely o my brother to help me with technology stuff. But when he’s not around, I gotta do it on my own. Of course I did consult my brother and Google in my attempt. My laptop keeps telling me that I’m running low on storage. What to do when the internal storage is about 61GB. Why does the system takes up more than half of it? Now after that I’ve reformatted, the system takes up 40GB out of the 60GB storage available. Don’t tell me now to change my laptop because Apple does not have 11″ MacBook Air anymore. I don’t really fancy the 13″. It’s too bulky for me to bring around.

I’d still prefer to have a laptop in handy than just to rely everything on the iPad. Prices are way off the charts now. I can’t bring myself to spend so much money on a new laptop when the current one is still functioning well, nor spending the amount equivalent to a laptop back then for an iPad Pro. iPad Pro in my opinion is almost as powerful as a laptop.

Coming back to the story of reformatting the laptop.

I get frustrated really easily when things don’t go the way I intended. Like troubleshooting when the outcome is not the same as what was shown n the steps. I wanted to update to Sierra OS, however the message of not being able to do so keeps popping up whenever I’m in that reformatting stage. So move to Mojave OS instead. Apparently when I Google the MacOS versions, Mojave is the latest one. Am I right? Anyway, my main goal was to get more storage to do all these updates and stop getting notification that my storage capacity is running low. They are really annoying. Can’t they just leave me alone. Even now when I’ve cleared everything and only put in the necessary apps, the system still takes up 40GB out of the 60GB available. Where in the world is this system taking up my space?!!! I am angry. There is really no point in changing my laptop.

What I want / use my laptop for?

  • Web browsing
  • Blogging (almost in non-existence)
  • Video Editing (something I want to pick up again)

I think that’s about it that I use my laptop for. As I’ve mentioned earlier that I would still like to have a laptop is because there are some functions in the laptop that the iPad cannot mimic. iPad I feel that is just an extended arm of the laptop. So, laptop’s spot remains untouchable. Desktop option is not even in consideration. Don’t even have the need for that.

But why don’t go for other brands? Why stick with Apple?

Simple. I have all my decives synced to Apple. I like that convenience and I am used to it. Not that I can’t adapt to new OS or anything. It is just I like to have the convenience. Isn’t that what technology is all about? So indirectly I’ve become a slave to my devices. It is what it is.

For the time being, I’m just going to stick to what I have. No point fixing or changing when there is no problem in this case. Why have additional expenditure when it is not needed.

Till then, stay sane!

Madrid’s Food Market & Churros

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This would be my third time going to Madrid. The last that I came here was almost a year ago. Has the place changed? Not that I’ve noticed. However where I wanted to go still remains the same. After all it is still a tourist spot to say the least.

First stop, to the food market – Mercado De San Miguel

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Too many food choices, too little money. Walked around the whole market to see what’s there to offer before starting my food spree.

When in Spain, you gotta have some tapas, any kind of tapas.

I settled for some seafood tapas as my starters – octopus, salmon, and muscles. The first two are 1.50 Euros each and the muscle is only 1 Euro.

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They have cheese tapas too but did not get any as I am afraid that my stomach cannot handle the dairy since I plan to be out for a while for my food spree.

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This too was from last year. A small salmon open sandwich tapas. Next stop, time to get some liquid in. Sangria is a must. Had the red. Cost 3 Euros. It comes with a side of olives too. I really tried to like it but I just couldn’t. Cannot have the olive by itself  or in my food. The only olives I fits with my taste buds is olive oil. Even so, in minimal quantity.

One year ago, this is their menu.

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Their serving glass has also changed or were these their special sangria drink. Could not remember.

Next, I really wanted to have these crab meat.

Did not have these as they were way out of budget, like way out. If not mistaken, half of what’s on the left is minimum 20 Euros. I think I could get something else better elsewhere.

Had these crab patties instead for 4 Euros. I could not taste the fresh crab meat but it was alright.

Next.

More seafood!!!

Gotten myself a half a dozen of oysters. Yes, I had all of them to myself. Fresh oysters for 15 Euros. Had some with lemon and some without just to taste the difference. I still would put a little lemon juice on top if not knowing they are super fresh. The next day however, I had episodes of diarrhoea and vomiting. Not sure if the oysters are the main contributor or the whole seafood spree I had.

How about a year ago?

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These were way better. It was from a different stall. They go by pieces instead of per plate. I should go back to this one instead. You get the price you paid for.

All they have here are different kind of salmon dishes. A mini Japan for me all in one stall. They recommended the salmon tartar.

And salmon tartar I got. It is basically smoked salmon, not fresh salmon. That I will leave it till I get to Japan again. The serving size makes me really happy. For 9 Euros, I will still get it if I have to choose again.

And how can I leave the city without getting some churros. Sought help from my trusty Google and Google maps to find this place. Apparently it is so famous that they have photos of famous people visiting the chocolaterie on the wall.

Chocolateria San Gines

You will always know it is a tourist spot when there is a long queue outside.

I gotten the 6 churros with hot chocolate for 4.20 Euros. One thing about this premise is that you need to order first before sitting down. They have a system going on as it is always busy with tourist, so do not expect any kind of service here other than taking your order, paying at the counter, and getting your food served. If you would like to have some water, you gotta get it on your own from the counter. The people aren’t that friendly either as they are always on the move to take the receipt form and delivering the meals.

Churros and hot chocolate wise, they were not that boom boom pow for me. The hot chocolate taste is just right for me. It is not those milky kind of chocolate which I like. Their churros are also super fresh since the demand is continuously coming. You could also see how they make the churros through a viewing window. However if there are not many people flocking there, I am pretty sure the waiters will be kinda annoyed.

Took a stroll around after all the food in my stomach. The weather was really nice.

Walked all the way to the royal palace of Madrid. Of course I just stroll along the gates outside.

Bonus feature. These were taken a year ago.

They have a lot of street entertainer or performers. One of them were these statue looking performers. They would only move when somebody drops a tip for them or when there is a group of people lingering around or near them, then they would move slightly or change slight expression to get attention. This was near Plaza Mayor.

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Or like some singing performance which I managed to stumble upon.

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I always will give some tips especially if I am going to take pictures or videos. They put the effort, so I should also do my part a little.

This next eatery is worth a shoutout. It’s a Mexican tacos place in Madrid – Takos. I repeat, TACOS, not tapas. The best part is each tacos cost 1 Euro. This is definitely a steal. A colleague suggested this place. The restaurant opens at 12pm. When we reached there, albeit 20 minutes earlier, there was already a long queue.

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Can you imagine each of these tacos only cost 1 Euro?! I need to visit this place again when I am in Madrid again regardless of the weather. Of course, hoping the restaurant opens when I am there.

p/s: For me to even finish this blog post, it took me almost a month to get the words out. So much of procrastination.

Money spent on the day:

Train return ticket – Euro 3.40
Seafood tapas 3 items – Euro 4 .00
Sangria Red – Euro 3.00
Crabs buns – Euro 4.00
Fresh oysters  – Euro 15.00
Salmon tartar – Euro 9.00
Churros + hot chocolate – Euro 4.20

Total: Euro 42.60

📍 Locations 📍

Mercado De San Miguel
Plaza de San Miguel, s/n, 28005 Madrid, Spain

Chocolateria San Gines
Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5, 28013 Madrid, Spain

Takos
Calle de la Abada, 2, 28013 Madrid, Spain

Till then, stay sane!

London – Avobar – Ramen fun!

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Each time I come to London, I try to find an area to go to rather than running round the whole of Central London when I have about 10 hours or less to explore. Well given that I only have 24 hours or less in the city from the time I arrived till I gotta hop on a plane and be off. So yeah, that would leave me about 10 hours since I got to sleep as well.

This time around, I have bookmarked a few new food places, 4 places to be exact. Managed to only visit 2 places as my stomach was already giving me warnings of a toilet break needed.

I got off at Covent Garden to make my way for brunch. Saw this rave about this place called Avobar. They serves everything with avocado. Okay, not every single item on the menu.

Gotten myself a cup of flat white which I know I shouldn’t have gotten any coffee in the first place and an avocado tuna poke.

Flat white – GBP 2.80
Avo Tuna Poke – GBP 12.60

This place has a  similar vibe to Evelyn’s Café Bar in Manchester. Instead of getting the classic avocado toast, I opted for avo tuna poke as I was kind of hungry. Then again, rice is filling to start my food spree.

The poke is served on spicy jasmine rice. The rice is spicy indeed, does pack a punch. I like that little awakening on my palates. The ingredients are all being served cold. I’m thinking the vegetable on top is called sweet baby pea. I only had them cooked before but not raw. There’s a hint of sweetness in that veg. They don’t hold back on giving you your share of tuna. Even with every small bite I have with a piece of tuna, I’d still have some more laying around. 

I do like my alone time now having a meal in a nice cafe, people watching; walking down the street, people watching. It is a very interesting activity.

Next, I walked to get me some ramen!

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I was there right in time for their lunch menu. Ordered their tonkotsu x. According to their menu, it is exclusive only in London.

To make a perfect pair, got to have some green tea love. I wasn’t disappointed with this at all. Including tax, this meal costs GBP 11.25.

I was craving for some Japanese food. How I miss going to Japan just to have them. I barely able to finish everything as my stomach was already in its last warning to me should I pack some more food in it. Still had to ride for an hour to get back to my hotel. So probably next time, I am going to have my Burgers and Lobsters again. Also, I have a budget to work with. Got to keep them as low as possible but still being able to enjoy the wonderful sight and taste of a city.

Money spent on the day:

Train (return) – GBP 11.80
Avobar – GBP 15.60 (excluding tax)
Kanada-ya – GBP 11.25

Total: GBP 38.65

📍 Locations 📍
Avobar @Avobarlondon
23 – 24 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, London

Kanada-ya @kanada_ya_ldn
64 St Giles High Street, London

Till then, stay sane!

 

Spiderweb mind

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Every time when I wake up, the first thing I do is to search for my phone to look at the time or my round clock with twin bells from IKEA on my bedside table. However when I reach out for my phone, automatically I will unlock it and head to social media platforms, Instagram followed by Facebook. After that I will just go through some of the menial games I’m currently playing.

Now the thing is, I often go through that routine every time I lift the phone to my eyesight. At times when I was thinking of looking up something or need to use some other app on the phone, I would automatically go to the said social media apps and start mindlessly scrolling down. I keep on going in the social media apps checking, stalking, scrolling, filtering, yet after 10 minutes of doing so, my mind has wondered off somewhere. It becomes a mindlessly action that goes for another hour. Every time that I look at my phone, it is as if I have become a zombie. I don’t think anymore. I am trying to escape my reality.

Every time when I am being left on my own with no distractions at all, my mind will go on a roller coaster ride. This becomes even more prominent when I am being strap down for 20 minutes with no one to talk to or no device for me to shift my attention to. It just takes a few moments of silence before my mind starts to wonder. The most recent concern will be the first agenda to pop up. I go through the question like I am having my own interrogation in my head. Instead of finding answers, I get more open-ended questions. That means more concerns will arise. In actual fact, they are all the answers that cannot be solved on its own. It is not as easy as my just choosing what I want. What I want is going to have this roller coaster running on its own track without stopping at its exit platform. On the other hand, choosing what is supposed to be right, that is the tough choice. If I had to reach that point, it means I need to hit the reset button but all the cache memory still remains.

Every time when my mind wonders off, it will enter uncharted territory, a dangerous territory, like being stuck in a spider web. Yet I am the same spider that is making the web.

Till then, stay sane!