Zack Arias & A Sense of Charm in Photography

No matter what I do, I’ll have to inject some art bits in it. Maybe if I can’t do it bluntly but I try to add an art point of view here and there.

To me, art is the essence of life. The x-factor to the things we do on daily basis. Maybe you might not see it that way, but horning your skill, even by sweeping the floor, getting a certain routine formulated .. that is art too.

But I’m not writing about art.

I wanna talk about my fear of going up to people and asking their permission to take photos of them. I have done in the past, sometimes just to challenge myself. And I find joy in knowing that people don’t mind actually. However, I’m still intimidated to go up to people.

Watching Zack Arias doing his thing like it’s no big deal is an inspiration I hope to harness in June. There are two reasons for this,

I: I’ll be heading down under for a break but also to finally come back from the dead in taking street photography with my new sidekick.

II: Enrolling myself for 3 days street photography workshop with Chemat (a living legend in Malaysia) in Penang for Obscura Festival.

So, either ways, I still have to get down on my knees and work on my photography. I’ve been told that Chemat is one guy who takes no-nonsense. Which is good for me but I better know my shit!

I like that Zack Arias isn’t intimidated by people and people are just as fond of him. There’s that connection, that extra zing to capture because he makes them comfortable. Something I want to work on from now onwards.

In a way, it helps build my self-esteem which once upon a time was almost non-existent.

But activities like this, people like him, friends I have make me want to be better for myself. Build myself up because I deserve it, because He obviously has a plan for me for sticking around this long despite me not knowing what it is.

So I think, everything is planned out the way it should be. Just received my new sidekick and it’s time for one heck of a bonding session baby!


Sunrise in Bagan Lalang

Sunrise in Bagan Lalang

Heart Life

Paint the clouds,
the trees and your life
for this story is about
how you do it, dream it
and most certainly live it.

Your strength is in Him
that belief, that hope
it all comes from Him
so carry faith,
carry it all the way.

Have heart, lots to start
As wisdom will impart
when you make mistakes
So take heart,
Life is a work of art.

It was one of those rare moments when I’m able to wake up early for sunrise. To be honest, I wasn’t able to sleep the whole night.

And it’s nice to see such relationship exists in front of my eyes. That beautiful moment between a parent and child.

Hopefully as we move forward with technology, we bring along the human aspect in our lives.


Travel Tips: Food for Thought

Food for Thought

When you’re on the go pretty often, the one thing you should always have with you is emergency food. Be it biscuits, instant noodle or chocolates.

I couldn’t stress out how important it is to have food within grasp.

There were instances when our instant noodle saved our lives during our trip. I had my first taste of Korean instant noodle the moment we checked in to our apartment in Amsterdam. Wasn’t sure what happened but I felt dizzy and nauseous and it was starting to pour outside. Syiks didn’t asked, she just went to the kitchen and made me some to eat.

Korean Noodle Amsterdam

Times like this, critical moments – you’ll learn to appreciate the simple food in life. While I agree, having instant noodle everyday is bad for you. Having 3-6 packets for emergency in 31 days is indeed the best decision we’ve made.

Also, considering we stayed mostly in apartments in many of the cities we were in – it made it that much easier to eat. I remember we opted to stay in on our last night in Paris. It was a beautiful night that day, as we eat our meals by the window overlooking other neighbours playing guitars and chit-chatting at Rue Cremieux. It’s so lovely, reminded us a lot of Notting Hill. But that’s another story to tell on another post.

Kitchen Paris

So yeah, sometimes it’s good to just take a moment and have it to yourself. Always remember to take care of yourself first before you’re able to do it to others.

Oh and while walking, grab some fruits along the way. It’s the best kind of food to munch. Mia Market at Via Lucio Papirio, Trastevere Rome was another gem we found when I first met my childhood pen pal Giulia. The plums were so fresh, I could remember how crunchy it was and sweet too! It’s an organic shop for your everyday groceries AND also a place you can eat.

I also remembered buying a box filled with strawberries for 2 euros because it was in late afternoon and the market was closing in Frankfurt. You can find fresh goods at discounted price towards the end of the day.

I think eating 6 times a day is a good thing, provided that you’re eating good stuff. So my in between meals were usually of fruits and a gelato. You need all the energy to do all that walking.

Remember to include food in your check list when you’re preparing for a long journey. You’ll never know when it comes handy.


Wangen am Untersee, Germany: Skipping Rocks

Wangen am Untersee, Germany: Skipping Rocks

The End?

Run, run as far as I can
I won’t see, can’t see, will not see
This path I’m going,
The furthest I’ve been

Crawling in the tunnel
Time is ticking,
Sun is appearing
Will this be the beginning?

Reaching out,
holding onto the last string of hope
And here I am, praying
for you to let me go.

In that moment, everything stopped
like a piece of history getting caught
being replaced and erased
with emptiness and possibilities.

Can’t look back, won’t look back
“Here’s your blank canvas”
He pushed me up,
“Ready for an unwritten journey?”

We were on the way from Rheinfall in Schaffhausen, Switzerland when Renée and Mitha decided to stop by here. Little did we know, Renée is quite the champion in skipping rocks. It was a simple thought, gesture, idea yet sharing their special place with us made it so much more awe-inspiring to say the least.

He taught us how to do it and for a while there, neither Syiks nor I got it. Then I managed to do it once or .. was it twice? An indescribable feeling when I achieved it making the rock skipped. What’s the tip? Find a flat rock with round corners.

Btw, Wangen am Untersee (funny enough, when translated in’s Cheeks to Submarine) is a dock for sail boats. Remarkable view of the sun setting isn’t it? One could sit on the rocks and just have this view for dinner.

Yeah, I wouldn’t mind it.


Brussel Zuid: Hello New Friend

Brussel Zuid

I tend to have a question in my head the moment I wake up. It varies from “What to eat” to “What the heck did I do last night?”. This morning, Leeds popped up without notice. Maybe because, this new old city has a certain charm that I find peculiar – much like Haarlem, Bingen and Ludlow. Those little place, there’s just something about it.

It was our third city for that Euro trip we went. Frankfurt and Amsterdam were the first two  (by now you’d prolly figured that I’m not writing chronologically). While I like things to be in somewhat order, feelings dictate otherwise.

This was quite a bit of journey, one that didn’t sunk in until we were moving about. From Amsterdam, we went to Brussel Zuid. At first I thought this was the station I had stopped 7 years ago when I went to Brussels but it turns out they switched the transit station and I was slightly surprised to see the other side of Brussels.

Zuid in Dutch means South (or Midi in French) and it’s probably like the ‘hood side to the colourful and chocolate-laden city of Brussels. It was also my first time encountering a beggar on the street who were very persistent (didn’t help that she was sitting in a wheel chair along the main station). It’s relatively gloomy on this side, somewhat grungy too in terms of character and mood.

And here I got Syiks all excited to check out Brussels for 2.5 hours during our transit. Well, she was disappointed it wasn’t the Brussels we were all accustomed to. Nonetheless, we walked around anyway. I mean, considering we have so much time before departing for Kings Cross St. Pancras..might as well eh?


Nothing was opened at 9ish morning, that and I think this area isn’t really the place for tourists anyway. But I guess, in years to come, this place would look better since Brussels Zuid is the biggest train station in Belgium, considering everyone transits here.

When we walked out, no map what so ever, just..simply walk – I spotted this


Tintin acted as my beacon to navigate through this unknown place we wandered. If you’re out here, you won’t miss out on Le Lombard‘s iconic sign up the building. What is it you might asked? This is THE comic publisher for Tin Tin 🙂 You’ll definitely find Tin Tin all over the city, especially in Brussel Centraal but this was the one thing that stuck in my mind. Who would’ve thought, being here in a place you don’t know and you find a piece of Belgium’s history. Oh that kid in me jumped for joy over this discovery!

Murals, Brussels Zuid

Like most places that shares the same character as Brussel Zuid, you’ll find the heart in your face. Centraal is filled with beautiful art splattered everywhere. Some commissioned art but a place like this, the raw talent is released tenfolds without restriction. It’s there because there’s a story they want to tell. That’s a quality I find more expensive, one you can’t just buy anywhere. The colours very much jives with the other murals I’ve seen along the way. Unsure if it were by the same people but I suppose it’s the colours that represents them.

I don’t know how I spotted these since it was high above but I’m glad I did, just enough to know that you can find beauty in any place, any nooks and crannies. It doesn’t matter how established or developed the place is, there’s always something unique. And this is Brussel Zuid’s.

You don’t see Cubism painted on walls for public to see but this is what that is. Brussel Zuid is their public gallery for their artworks.

Graffiti, Brussel Zuid

While I initially started off to write about Leeds, there’s something about Brussel Zuid that’s pulling me to dive in further. And I like how this has turned out to be. The unassuming places, those places you pass by not knowing that there’s a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.

So what’s the moral of the story?

Even when you think a place does not fit in your world as you expected, take a chance and get to know this new place. Make the most of what you have and rock it out!

Thank you Brussel Zuid, for at first I thought it wasn’t much of transit trip but hey, looks like I actually did see some things I didn’t get to all this while. Kudos!


TED Prize: JR

I know it’s a Saturday but I thought of this video off an on, I don’t know why. There’s so much goodness in JR’s words, works and thoughts.

If you’re ever in Paris and spotted paper graffitis (these days it’s cut-out shapes of drawings) on the wall, along the alleys – this was how it all started. Many moon years ago. It’s kinda like an signature, the other side to that Parisien romantic dream many people associate the City of Lights.

Anyway, I’d love for you to spend some time and watch this video, how much impact something so simple yet became a functional design that could save lives (or make lives better).

I always believe that while we can’t change the world, we can make a difference, at least to one person. We might not know about it but that’s what the magic is all about.

Perhaps you too might be inspired to leave a mark in the future?


La Martellina, Firenze: That Enchanting Home

La Martellina, Firenze: That Enchanting Home

The word enchanting popped up when I thought of La Martellina, then I went to the website and that’s exactly what it’s described. Either that’s the feeling or I’m predictable?

Either ways, this 1200 over years old Italian villa is a hidden gem in Tuscany, build right next to the Arno river. I’m totally in love with this place, so really felt like home. I wished we had stayed here longer than 3 days.

The one thing I overlooked during my stay here in Firenze is that, it’s a helluva more fun renting a car too. La Martellina is somewhat outskirt from the city but it’s all good. It was where I wanted to be. There’s so much to talk about this place, one I will be in time to come.

Just that right now, woke up early morning and was thinking “What’s the one thing you’ll want to rewrite experience in the trip?”

And this was it. I’ll plan to come back, I’ll plan to stay longer and I’ll plan to brush up on my rusty Italian. I’ll even ask Claudio to teach me cook some of his amazing food.

One of the storytellers I’ve came across during the trip, so full of life, like like a true Italian. Of course, watching him interact with Emilio, his super adorable, most wonderful and friendly hug dog will always put a smile on your face.

I’ll forever remember Emilio who always walked us to our bedroom from the gate.

Yep. I will make a return and I’ll rewrite this experience into a heck of a getaway.

Click on the photo and it’ll fly you to La Martellina’s page 😉


Getting the Right Travel Buddy

That Jumble Rumble

For today, only today
This is how I see
You and me
Far from everything
Yet so close to something.

For today, only today
Life turns into some jumble-wumble
About me, you, they, them
Little things we never give a damn
Suddenly, it all made more sense.

Tomorrow, maybe later today
This will all unfold
Those little things we hold on to
Will grow into something oh so wonderful
Something..more meaningful.

I didn’t know how to make a comeback, not that this is a comeback per se. I went back, 10 years back thinking how did I got around to do it then, everyday, sometimes two-three posts per day. Then, it all came back. Always go back to where you feel best, most comfortable, just at ease.

I’m no poet, not by a million miles that’s for sure but I find putting words thrown from my head somewhat like a therapy. It used to be THE therapy when I didn’t know how to express. Writing poems was all I knew. The ironic part was, I refused to write one (the very first one at 14 years old) when my English teacher asked us all to do for our homework. That poem, don’t know where it came from, entitled “When I Was A Kid” got quite a bit of words from her. Submitted somewhere too. That was when it all started. No. It started, then died for 4 years then it became a habit.

But that’s not the point of this post. Far from it. Oh dear fingers, can you go back on track..

That poem was the kickstart to everything that is right now. The poem I dedicate to my very dearest friend Syikin Harris about our journey when we travelled together last year around Europe. I didn’t know how to write, insisted I have to write, more like a need. It’s been bugging me least 6 months and that was the result of the 2 minute free writing practice.


I know I want to write about my trip, every trip. But right now, this very moment – this precedes everything. That one of my biggest journey when travelling is the friendships I have with me, be it strangers or long time friends. My one month stint was truly about the people I’ve connected and reconnected. So expect some sappiness along the way. Sniff.

The thing about travelling is that, when you opt to travel with someone else (or more), it’s really all about make it or break it moment. If you blend well with each other, your trip will be even more awesome. If you don’t see eye to eye with your travel partner,..Houston we have a problem.

It’s almost common knowledge among my close friends that I’m very selective when I travel with other people. It’s just a matter of vibe, maturity, fun and all around complimentary. And that’s exactly how I would describe my super awesome travel buddy Syiks – complimentary. In every way possible.

Where I go left, she goes right. We balance each other out. We bicker A LOT while travelling too but after the first week of frustrations, we learned to embrace each other’s strengths. I dragged her for a Bali trip 4 years back on my birthday, which turned out to be her first travel plan and 4 days wasn’t enough to know the nitty gritty stuff about us but it gave us an idea who we are.

I’m that go with the flow kinda girl and she’s the OCD one.

And for this particular 31 days Euro trip we didn’t do detailed planning but we had the skeletal laid down. I throw in suggestions, ideas, places to go, to see and do while skyping and before you know it, Syiks turned my train of thoughts in excel spread sheets. I settle the entire transportation, she booked for accommodations and Coldplay concert. It was really a team effort although I felt like she put more effort in making everything laid out so that she can sleep in peace pre and during the trip.

I have to admit, it did came in handy tho that excel sheet of hers. But I also appreciate the fact that she went with opened mind knowing that traveling with me consists a lot of going with the flow stuff. The routine was, when we end up in one city,

“So any idea where will be going these few days?” she asked.

Then that’s where I come in, open the map, look at notes I had in mind then go from there. The trip was 50% early planning (you save a lot when booking for accommodations at least 3 weeks beforehand) and 50% play by ear. I don’t know why but I know Syiks is the type who likes things in order and for some reason she felt like she could trust me being in a continent she’s never been before (kudos for going through 21 hours flight straight!). I’m honoured.

Main HBF Frankfurt

I also remember, before meeting up at KLIA where Syiks arrived from Sydney 2 hours before our flight to Frankfurt that night, we talked a lot about the what ifs.

What if I get frustrated, what if I needed space, what if you can’t stand me, what if …

We made sure that we have an open communication with each other as I knew there’s no way to be fully prepared being with each other that long without losing our minds. And we did on a few occasions but it only made our friendship even stronger than before.

We bickered like nobody’s business, almost to a point like having a sibling really. The first week was tough because we were in a new place, in each other’s face all day and night and for some reason what she said and I said just never made any sense.

It took another good friend of mine, Hafiz who we met in London and then joined us in Paris pointed out why we were having such tensed moments when arguing. Then it all made more sense – we were not on the same page. D’oh! (There will be a post where Hafiz will pop up again)

We decided to make a friendship bracelet with both our names on it in Frankfurt. Now safely in Sydney.

We decided to make a friendship bracelet with both our names on it in Frankfurt. Now safely in Sydney.

Yesterday, we caught up a bit via imessage, preparing for my trip to Australia after 16 years and we looked back at our moments. We laughed about it but ultimately we knew whatever it was during that trip, changed us.

Changed us to be better people. Better communicators. Most importantly, changed us to be better friends to each other.

“Why then are you so picky with who you travel with? You love to travel, isn’t going with strangers part of the package?”

True. I do go out with people I hardly know on trips but mostly I make conscious effort that the vibe’s right. Travel to me is something sacred. And I don’t want to ruin anyone’s journey just because I’m a bit crazy. To each their own right?


I can’t stressed out how important it is to find the best people to travel with, and when you do..hold ’em close ok?


Musik, My Travel Therapy

I travel the garden of music, thru inspiration. 
It’s a large, very large garden, see? – Peter Tosh

Music has been very much the core and foundation to my very being. It’s important that I have it with me wherever I go to wherever I will be. Kinda like a friend I know that I can count on no matter what state of mind I’m at. It’s my therapy. My anchor. Dramatic eh? Ah, what is life without a little bit of drama.

I’ve never failed to pick up a cd when I travel to new/familiar places. While others collect magnets, postcards or other souvenirs, I buy books and cds. I’m a dork through and through 🙂

Josh Rouse’s Subtitulo was one of the discovery I made during my previous Euro trip which turned out to be my OST for the entire month. God, that album resonated with how I felt at that time – going on my first ever trip abroad on my own.

I don’t know what is it with music but I’m somehow very connected to it. Not that I’m in any way talented whatsoever, it’s just..let’s put it this way – music saves my life and without it, I’m not sure if I’ll be as sane as I am today. Even then, I do question myself somedays. Heh.

So these are my five main artists who’ll be in my playlist through the 30 days across East and West Europe (I’ll share with you the list I’ll travel in the next post):

1. Paola & Chiara
I’ve been listening to this duo since 2000 and I’ve always wanted to get their albums but it’s never available in Malaysia. At that time, I have this mad obsession about Italia (still do actually), I have no idea why. Listening to it again brings back so many memories and it’s only right that I bring them along to my trip 🙂 

2. Coldplay
To explain the kind of impact this band has made in my life would take me forever to find the perfect words. To watch them play live in Stade de France, Paris next month is something I’ve yet to digest and I will promise you that there will be a moment when I would have tears in my eyes. Oh, I have no doubt about that. Ego aside.


3. Ellie Goulding
I could just picture myself playing her albums on loop throughout the journey. There’s something about her words, her mood that strikes a chord with me and I know I’ll be hunting down for her albums in HMV later.

4. Artful Dodger

I’ve always loved old skool UK garage band. I miss those days when music was just so good, so pleasant to the ears that it just never gets old. If there’s a club still playing AD, I’d be over the moon for sure. 

5. Jamiroquai

There’s no place I’d go without Jamiroquai. Full stop. Just a shame that his tour has ended before my trip. What I’d do to watch him perform again.

So these are some of the many song that’ll accompany me while I find my home, myself and my inspiration. Travel and music to me goes hand in hand. One doesn’t function without the other. It tears the heart, it speaks for the soul, it expresses love and it shares the joy.

Now, where’s my shuffle again? Darn it.