Wednesday, 2 October 2019

taipei to taichung

the camera i was using here was a point and shoot which meant i had less control of the composition... which i guess is like being in asia in general. you don't know where to look, there is something happening somewhere all the time. 

we went to taipei because it has been a minute since i had been. then we went to taichung to see something else. the milk teas and mango slushies and fruit juice concoctions made me euphoric. the mushroom hot pots had my heart soaring. i learnt taichung produces most of taiwan's mushrooms, and in one of the farms we ate mushroom tempura, mushroom soup, mushroom rice and drank mushroom juice for lunch. there was also mushroom ice cream. i didn't eat that because gluttony is real and sometimes you need a reason to keep living. (that took a sudden dark turn???)

we also met a boy called 'little big brother', i asked him why he was little big brother, and he said someone else was already big big brother.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

under the crescent and star

the plane lands and the passengers all rise immediately during taxi. everyone is standing and opening the overhead lockers while the staff sighs over the intercom. please stay seated and do not open the overhead lockers. it gets repeated a few times, and has no effect. by the time the plane stops, people are all lined up in the aisles with their belongings.

when we disembark the person who had sat next to me, and borrowed a pen, says 'au revoir' and quickens his pace. naturally we meet again in the crawling passport control line. he asks me after we exit if i need a lift into town. i think about how you should never accept lifts from strangers and i answer 'yes'.

he drops me off right outside the old city a hundred meters from where i need to be. kindness from strangers. damn. i want be thankful but all i manage to muster is a simple thank you tinged by the mild shock of my peripheral vision: 100 stray cats (at least) jumping around, kids yelling '¡hola!', the pungent smell of dead fish, and the beginning of every person in sight breaking their fast for the day. it was sensory overload.

years ago when i was visiting the beautiful home of a family friend, i went through quite a few coffee table books in their study. there was one on interior design in morocco and a home in tangier made such an impression i knew i had to visit the city that housed it. well, now i have a different impression of tangier. but that's fine...

there is a fat cat that will not stop jumping on me as i eat. at one point she puts her jaw around my arm. stop stroking my head and give me a shred of food you piece of garbage—was probably what she wanted to say. i give her a few olives at regular intervals so her tail can stop caressing my face and allow me to lunge forward to take a bite of my dinner.

wow, so i'm finally here, i think as i fall asleep the first night. before suddenly experiencing a pan of panic about how dehydrated that cat might be from all the olives.

two days later i meet rachel in marrakech and the fun—however interpreted—really begins. those stories another time though? we travelled the country, we met some good people, we met some bad people, rachel bought a tagine, i fainted on a bus. something like that.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

river runs

1. verona
2. torino
3. marostica
4. venice
5. côte d'azur
6. arles

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

the tourist

when you are not travelling-in-a-relationship, you will be the designated photographer for a lot of random couples. sometimes i offer if i am in the middle of some deep ass swiss valley with no one in sight and they are struggling to rest their newly purchased dslr on a boulder of sorts. most of the times, if you are somewhere popular—paris, prague, (gah i'm out of p cities), rome, london—people just naturally form a line in front of a monuement and hand me their cameras as if i won't do that joke where i take a rapid step to run just to see their panic.

then, the polite couples will usually turn and ask me if i'd like a photo. i only said 'yes' once, in 2011. i was in london and there was some parade going on, a couple asked me to take their photo, and i did. then the couple asked if i'd like a photo, i passed them my camera and forgot about it.

months later i was looking through all the developed photos and there was just a random one of a blurred buckingham palace with a parade in front. it was kind of on an unintentional dutch angle, as if the shutter had pushed one side of the camera down. what is this photo??? i searched the photo like a page of where's wally for a clue of why i might have taken it. then in the lower left hand corner, i see my face, but just my face, taking up 1/20th of the frame. you'd think i accidentally walked into the shot.

though i feel like with instagram culture, most people are pretty good photographers these days? so i should try and say yes again in the future to finally update that profile picture from 2016.

Saturday, 23 February 2019


the other day i caught a train to see the dune du pilat which is a pile of sand an hour from bordeaux. when i arrived i was reminded again of my love for oceans and forests and the mist that settles around where they meet. the place can be described as an underwhelming and rationed version of dunes in australia. i'm not saying this dune wasn't good enough, because it was beautiful, but let's just say there's more sand to be found at a chinese construction site.

towards the end of my trip i encountered a taiwanese mother and son duo on holiday in the region for the week. the son told me i could hang out with them if i wanted to—as i was alone. i almost teared up because it was the nicest thing a stranger had said to me in nine months (wow is that how long i have been in france?).

yesterday i was talking to my love about how i met these two people from taiwan and he said 'oh, i met a taiwanese person recently,' i looked at him and knew, 'it's the same person.' 

me: he's tall-ish and has a bowl-like cut if the bowl was dish that is very shallow and could double as a plate... 
him: yeah...
me: he speaks english with an american accent and is super polite!
him: yeah
me: *pulls out a photo* IS THIS HIM??
him: *bursts into laughter* yeah!

damn, in taiwan they call that 缘分.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

when i saw stars in the sea

les calanques near marseille—there are numerous—i went to the calanque de sugiton because it was the easiest to reach. i had woken up at five am that day because i had to catch a flight to marseille airport which was (still is) 100% not in marseille, then a bus to town, then a subway to an outer suburb, then a bus to an even outer suburb, and then hike an hour. so you can bet your bottom dollar i stayed in the sun (which i hadn't see for a long time) until i was out of snacks to eat and pages to read but mainly snacks to eat.

walking back up the stone steps by the sea made me feel like i was in some cinematic version of a greek summer. the grand rock formations by the crystal clear water easily drew out human emotions, like you felt... if a town was at its sea-step it would bear only love stories. of course then you catch the bus back into marseille and the love story becomes some gritty redemption film.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

collecting stories at airports

there was a security scare at frankfurt airport and i was stuck for a while, majority of my time was spent eating soft pretzels (at one point i bought five thinking i will ration them but i ate them one after another and have no regrets, tbh my only regret is not eating more). between eating, i spoke to others i encountered, here are a few of many people:

48 hours earlier, julien had been drinking a beer while steering a boat on a lake in kraków. he was then arrested by the 'boat police' and thrown in jail where he stayed for 24 hours, before being released and given a fine he doesn't intend on paying. he didn't speak any polish, and he didn't call the french ambassador when he was arrested because he didn't want to worry his parents. he says he was stripped fully, and then searched beyond that. he shared a cell with a chainsmoker and didn't eat the one meal he was served. he tells the story with humour and adds 'you know this story is way better in french, it's a shame you are hearing it in english because my english is... comment on dit, merde!'

ismael came to frankfurt 30 years ago, he is half turkish and half kurdish. he has two daughters with his first wife, who unfortunately passed away. he has another baby daughter now with his current wife. he spends all his spare time with his daughters and grandkids. 'they are schön,' he says, and shows me photos on his phone. 'sehr schön,' i respond. he tells me his mama passed away when she was 60 but his father is 104 and still kicking. i don't believe him and he shows me a photo, and yes, his father is literally kicking the air in one image dated last month. he kisses my hand goodbye and wishes me the best for this life.

she reminded me of a teacher i had when i was 11. she is visiting one of her daughters in frankfurt, her other children are based in england, canada, and the usa. she is en route to visit her sister in sweden. her husband and her mother both passed away in the last couple of years, and she says it's been difficult to move on. she has never migrated like the rest of her family because her husband and her always loved life in tehran. he was a professor in mathematics. her eyes light up when she mentions his past students still visit her, and view her as a second mother. she tells me things that i have been thinking about with my own family in the last couple of days, and when we part i feel the daylight dim a little.

Friday, 29 June 2018

unhealthy air quality for sensitive groups


when we were in beijing it rained. i found it a bit suss the raindrops were achingly heavy, kind of like getting hit by hundreds of baby water bombs as opposed to 'rain'. by the time we found cover (thank you taxi driver), our white t-shirts were covered in blotches of brown—it had rained dirt. the last time this happened i got pneumonia and was given ten days to live, so a brown t-shirt was aight.