Thursday, 17 March 2022

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Thursday, 9 December 2021

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

wet season

perpetual mist, constant haze, heavy rain, aggressive insects, these birds that—i swear—spoke to me in english.

my photos do zero justice for tropical north queensland. things not pictured:

pic 1. descending a mountain to see the tallest waterfall drop in australia and seeing this ginormous toad. (so i never used to be scared of anything except maybe getting kidnapped, but somehow in australia these kids taught me to be scared of everything. i once picked up a toad at camp and carried it to show the other kids and this girl screamed, telling me it was carrying diseases and i was going to die. now i see a toad and i get a fright not because of it but because it reminds me of the time when i was ostracised for touching a toad as a 10 year old)

pic 2. in the middle of cairns cbd there is just this large public outdoor pool and i'm kind of thinking every city should have one.

pic 3. rosie, who was at rusty's market, taught me how to weave a basket. i wanted to learn how to weave a fan and she said 'no... i only know how to weave baskets' no worries, i now have two baskets.

pic 4. swimming in a volcanic crater. (okay you got me, i still don't know how to swim. but i prodded along and drifted and had a conversation about racism and land ownership for an hour with a random person while in the water)

pic 5. thinking it would be a good idea to sleep by a dam. the dam made lots of noises and was surrounded by tiny frogs (they were the size of your littlest finger nail and they covered the ground everywhere your shoes didn't) (yes they jumped up and down while making tiny croaks). the whole scene could have been directed by alfred hitchcock... and yet it wasn't as scary as seeing the singular giant toad. wait a minute—where they actually tiny toads????

[muffled screams]

pic 6. all the times i cooked nissin ramen over a portable stove, and the water boiled real quick which had me so freaked out i googled and learnt that water boils at a lower temperature when at a higher altitude.

pic 7. daintree. this place has rivers that will pull you away, crocs that will definitely eat you, bugs that glow in the dark at night—and during the day, a superb ice creamery, oh and a forest that will swallow you whole if you let it.

pic 8. basically all the waterfalls i dipped my feet into while my arms got torn alive by flies above water. these flies had wingspans the size of a dorito chip, and a painful bite not dissimilar to me trying to tear open tofu packaging with the stab of a knife.

there were many other kodak moments, but i brought a roll of fuji film so i couldn't capture them.

if i could do this again, i would avoid the wet season.

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

the mess in meknes


there is a reason why when acts of kindness occur, people say 'and now my faith in humanity is restored'. the future of humanity lies in compassion. and normal levels of serotonin. i think

rachel and i were to catch a bus from meknes to chefchaouen in the morning. it was only 10 am but the heat of the sun meant any enclosed space was a sauna in the making. we hopped on the bus and as we waited, i suddenly felt pain throughout my arms and legs. i had never experienced such intense pain (that didn't involve a large piece of iron, gravity, and my skull). it began out of nowhere... my muscles felt like they were being put through a mincer, i started imagining what a moroccan hospital stay would be like.

while praying and trying to manifest myself out of this pain, the light suddenly started vignetting white, and i knew exactly where this was headed. the bus was still humming its engine, and the heat in the bus was rising. i turned to rachel, and explained to her my vision was blurring and that any moment now, i was going to lose consciousness. i told her not to worry, i was simply going to faint and be unresponsive for 10-15 minutes. she could squeeze my hand or put my legs above my body. 

she asked if we should go to the hospital and i said no (translation: who gets travel insurance anymore?). 

then slowly everything became white until it was black. 

i woke up to the flutter of rachel fanning paper. i felt extremely weak and could barely open my eyes. i told her i needed to throw up, and used all my might to stand up and inch towards the front of the bus. 

the bus was still idling with its engine on. some people on the bus must have known i fainted, because when i got off, someone mentioned i needed to find a bathroom and this tiny man who has been trying to earn a few tips putting luggages away for the travellers took me by the hand and guided me to the bathroom hundreds of metres away. not dissimilar to a pitch black, stone cold, 1m x 1m dungeon, i proceeded to throw up my breakfast. 

when i left the cubicle a lady came out of nowhere and started screaming while yanking my dress. please, this is yohji yamamoto, i whisper. kidding. i tried to move away but she wouldn't budge. the man has been waiting for me a few metres away from the bathroom and comes over, he tells the lady to leave me alone but she continues screaming. he quickly reaches into his pocket and gives her five dirhams. she tugs on me even harder and shouts even louder. he sighs and gives her another 20 dirhams and pulls me away before she can grab my dress again.

as he guides me back, i think about how i have to give him something when i get back on the bus. i must thank him. return the money and effort. he pushes me up onto the bus as it starts to taxi away from the station. i am tired, emotional, delirious, in pain, sick, and with the bus moving away before i can grab anything for him, i feel the regret of not being able to repay him start to build.

i drift in and out of consciousness for the duration of the 5 or 6 hour bus trip. rachel checks on me every now and then.

when my mind clears a few days later, i think what i had was food poisoning. the discomfort of which lasted for ten days. the effects of the stranger's kindness lasted longer, but the fact that he paid for my inconvenience and i never got to return it haunts me to this day. 

yes, all my nightmares are about socio-economic inequality, and being kidnapped. mostly the former.

Friday, 17 January 2020

Saturday, 11 January 2020

a good food guide

met a boy in verona with peach fuzz on his cheeks, so tall he looked like a skyscraper in the supermarket checkout line. we chatted briefly and he told stories of dislocating shoulders, six or seven or eight times. apparently once it happens, it'll always happen. once i was lifting myself onto a floating raft in a lake, and another time i was writing... with intent.

he made some tea and it was the best tea i had ever had. when i asked for the recipe, he said it was:

black tea
with lots of ginger
and lots and lots of honey
a lot of honey

quelque chose comme ca? i tried it recently... and is it just me, or do drinks and food always taste better when someone else makes it?

i'm taken back to a time many years ago when i made some shin ramyun for a friend because we hadn't ate dinner, she told me it was the best noodles she had ever tasted. which had to be a lie because she grew up in the noodle mecca that is singapore, but if that's how she felt about my two minute noodle skills which i had been perfecting since i was 8 years old then okay—but even thinking about it now makes me emotional, the thought that one could make the best of something simply by sharing it.

you can make
the best of something
by sharing it

—ooh, my first haiku for the year.

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
7. torino
8. other side of torino