I know, countless puns have been spun (ooh, an anagram of puns!) out of Nice. I’m trying to say it in a sarcastic way, like how I’d say “Nice.” when someone dishes out shit to me.

And Nice has been just that. Shitty. Full of dog poo, but I’d been warned by the Nice wikitravel page. (See, another pun, but it was not intended. Let’s keep it this way. This is a pun-free post.) I don’t think I like Nice very much, but yet I don’t hate it, there’s a certain rustic and grotty charm to it, only marred by people and experiences that could’ve been different. For instance while waiting for the sunset yesterday I was picked up (unsuccessfully) by two different groups of guys. This is the only time that I’m glad that I don’t speak French, so that my rejections can be executed on the (false) basis that I don’t hang out with people that I can’t communicate with. I think I even got a proposal. “You. Me. Paris. Marriage?” (He slid an imaginary ring up his ring finger. I was like, “Non, non, non, non.”) They were all drunk. I had an irrational fear that they’d push me off the cliff after unsuccessful advances. Who knows what the French do in heartbreaking circumstances like these. Or maybe they were Moroccans.

On the streets while walking back to the hostel there was a car blasting music and as I passed it, someone yelled “NI HAO MA NI HAO MA NI HAO MA…” until I crossed the street. Then the traffic light turned green and they zoomed past me, yelling “NI HAO MA NIHAOMANIHAOMA” until I was out of earshot. I don’t know, is this racist? Should I be pissed off at some people who (correctly) guessed my ethnicity and tried to greet me in my native tongue? But are all Asians Chinese? Should I be glad that they didn’t say Konnichiwa instead? Or maybe I should have stopped the car and taught them “Apa khabar?”

When I got back into the dorm I found that there was already a girl in one of the beds, she didn’t feel like talking, so I left it at hi. Brushed up, got into bed, and then these 3 Korean girls came into the room. I smiled at them and settled down to sleep, which I did, for about half an hour. And then I was awakened by an incessant drone of Korean, punctuated by crunching on potato chips and girlish giggles, which would be very charming if… ok there’s no way to put this nicely. They were loud and annoying, and there were two sleeping girls in a very cramped dorm. After 15 minutes of deliberation I decided to take the matters into my hands, and told them that there’s a basement if they needed to chat. They looked at me blankly as if they didn’t understand English. And then a slow glimmer of understanding lit up in the dull windows into their soul, and they said sorry.

Which was fine.

But then during the night the girl who was sleeping on the bunk below me had messages coming in at various hours of the night. I remember waking up at 4am. I vaguely kept count and there were 5 times that the godforsaken Korean pop song ringtone rang, until I couldn’t take it anymore at 6:30am, the fifth time, and got up quite belligerently and hissed at the girl below me. “Excuse me, can you stop doing that?” She kept silent and did not apologize even.

Suffice to say, I am not in good terms with my roommates. I got out of bed at 7, after fuming so much that I couldn’t sleep, and came down to the basement. Typed half of a blog post till someone short-circuited the basement and killed my computer. Then I went back up, smiled at the only innocent girl in the room, and ignored the others pointedly. After getting my stuff together I made my way to the beach, where I spent a relaxing morning napping and reading on my Kindle, and then at a hilltop park where I spent a relaxing afternoon napping and reading on my Kindle. I’ve finished Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, and the first book of the Chronicles of Narnia. I’ve talked to some French kids in English. (I think their teacher made them go around asking questions to strangers – I imparted my knowledge regarding the capital of Australia, the number of players on a basketball team, and the female star of Titanic. The age of Zidane the footballer I did not know.) I got my second marriage proposal on the streets.

All in all, the beaches of Nice were relaxing, the views gorgeous, but I can’t say that I’m reluctant to get out of here. So I’m going back to my dorm room to pack, so that I can leave first thing in the morning. Hello Amsterdam!

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I’m writing this in Hummus Bros, a really nice hummus place that Val recommended, and I’m eating in because I am feeling especially extravagant (You need to pay 2 pounds extra to sit inside). Actually that’s not true, it’s just because there’s a huge queue outside waiting for the takeout, and I’m feeling too sickly to be out in the wind and surround myself with the incessant drone of random people’s voices. At least it’s English here – in a few days’ time I am going to be in a sea of gibberish.

As I mentioned, I’ve been sickly. Coughing, runny nose, slight bit of body temperature increase – hello influenza my old friend. The colour of my phlegm is green, in case anyone’s interested. I wasn’t able to finish the hummus plate, I ordered a regular platter when I should have just ordered a small, so I am packing it for breakfast tomorrow.

There is nothing too much to report, I have just been through a 3 day conference, with a day of pre-conference before that, so it’s been a continuous stretch of conference rooms and social scientists and staring out of windows wishing that I was out in the sun. About 2 days in I found the wifi password, and since then even after the conference, and in-between, I was holed up in the conference location doing travel planning, sending CS requests, replying emails, paying rent – basically what a travelling digital citizen would do when she finds free wifi. The irony is that the travelling digital citizen isn’t doing much travelling at all, I haven’t even stepped into the British Museum so far, although my hostel is right beside it. I suck. Tomorrow I move out of the hostel, into my first CSer Jonathan’s house, and perhaps I won’t be back in the vicinity after that. The consolations are that I’ve actually been in the museum before and therefore I know what it’s like, and there is still time yet in London, before I leave for Paris, and at the end of my trip before I leave for KL.

But after the conference today I managed to drag my fatigued body for a walk to Covent Garden. I was carrying two bags, one of which that contained my netbook, so I was a rather cumbersome pedestrian bumping into people left right and centre. At Covent Garden, in the midst of the hustle and bustle, I picked up a walking tour leaflet quite serendipitously, and proceeded to follow it.

In my little bubble with two bags on either side of me, I wove my way slowly through the crowd, and saw where Charles Dickens used to write and live, the police station where Oscar Wilde was charged for homosexuality, and where Jane Austen used to stay when she visited London. The latter two are my literary heroes, in fact I am halfway through Mansfield Park by Jane Austen on my Kindle. I found myself being quite thrilled when I roamed through streets that they would have walked through, and seeing the evening skies that they would have seen, in their time and day. Although I had seen Oscar Wilde’s grave in Paris, and was quite enthralled to be quite near his dead body, this was the first time that I had come close to him in spirit. For Jane Austen, I lamented the ugly shop house called Rohan that had taken over 10 Henrietta Street, and I looked at the throngs of people from the 2010s, blaming them for intruding in my romantic imaginations, but nothing feasible could be done to avoid that so I continued walking.

The rest of the walk was pleasant enough. I peered with interest at Bedford Chambers where some prostitutes and gentlemen of leisure used to congregate, and wondered what the Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies was like. I found out later here. I gave 50p to a statue busker, and sat for 15 minutes at the small garden outside St Paul’s Church where it was amazingly peaceful, when ten steps away was a busker shouting for attention and people applauding to him.

I ended the walk at Hummus Bros. I’m glad I took the walk, it satisfied my pent up wanderlust (what is worse, than being at a foreign land but being unable to explore?) and gave me some pleasant surprises, as walks like these do, and I’m afraid I should make my way back to the hostel, put my leftover hummus in the fridge and retire to bed early with my Mansfield Park. Tomorrow will be a new day, hopefully with a less clogged nose and eyes that don’t burn.

So here I am, in Astor Museum Inn, a youth hostel right across the British Museum. I am seated in the lounge of the hostel as they can’t check me in till 2pm, and it is but 11:15am. With me there is 40 minutes of free Internet access, after that I have to pay a pound for every extra 40 minutes. 40 minutes is such an arbitrary number. Why not 42? The answer to life, the universe and everything else? Anyway, I am going to wait a little bit before I use the precious online minutes. Possibly post a blog post while I’m at it.

I have work to do, I need to design my presentation slides for my presentation for the conference, but other than this I have nothing much scheduled for today. I have to buy a sim card and spread the delightful news that I managed to survive the 17 hour flight (including transits in Bandar Seri Begawan and Dubai) without much incident, except for meeting Prof Wan on the Brunei leg of the flight. That was interesting. Also, I met a Cantonese-speaking KL girl who was on a month-long trip to Europe. She sells funeral services for a living, is unhappily married for 4 years, and takes it upon herself to dissuade people from getting married “unless you’re pregnant”. Her husband takes frequent sex trips to Thailand, and refuses to have kids. He sounds like a jerk.

There’s a Korean girl Skyping in the lounge, that’s a little annoying because it’s a small lounge and I hear nothing but her voice, and no one else is here. We’re reinforcing the Asian nerd stereotype, peering into our laptops and being anti-social. I deposited my luggage in the luggage room, which was a little dodgy because they lost the key that was supposedly stuck on top of a giant crocodile soft toy (origin: Ikea). It wasn’t. How secure can a luggage room be with a key at large, I don’t know. I have most of my important stuff with me anyway. So far the trip to London has not been very eventful. I took the Heathrow Connect from Heathrow to Paddington, and from Paddington I took a bus to the British Museum, and after 10 minutes of getting lost I got here. So far I have spent 8.5 (Heathrow Connect) +10 Pounds (Oyster Card top-up), on transport. I am banking on the 4 meals that I had on the 17-hour flight to keep me filled up still. I am going to keep a tight watch on my budget this time in Europe.

I wonder if they have open kitchens in this hostel. Guess there’s only one way to find out.

J says (5:05 PM):
i love you hug

C says (5:06 PM):
i love u too!! 🙂

J says (5:06 PM):
hehehehe i caught u by surprise!

C says (5:07 PM):
hehe yea..
I was happily minding my own business where out of the blue, i find out i got admirer lehhh
where got liddat!!
where? where?
Show me!!

J says (5:08 PM): here here here!!! *points at self*

C says (5:08 PM): (Y) hug~ (L)

Crazy Person

Crazy Person

I am trying to get into the mood of writing, as you can see. So far my strategy is to write without being cautious and just have a verbal diarrhea and then adjust the words to become something publishable.

 

The only problem is that right now I am also reading Nodame Cantabile the manga on my iPhone… Mukyaaaaa!! (Note to Asa: I’m now at the part where Nodame sees Chiaki Senpai playing during the festival – she was wearing the mongoose costume ahaha – and now she’s practising hard the Rachmaninoff piece to achieve Chiaki’s standards.)

Otherwise I am utilizing my commuting time and lunch time to learn German. I have officially decided to fuck it all and blow off my German class in Goethe Institut, because the teacher sucks and I can do better learning via audio tapes and reading books myself. So the past few days  I have been walking around muttering in German like a crazy person with earphones in her ears. The audio programme is pretty good and makes me practise spoken German and my hearing. I am at Lesson 9 now and I want to go through the entire 30 programmes (20 minutes each) by the time I go to Europe. I wish I could learn French as well, but I don’t think I’ll have the time, besides I’ll have a lot of time to do that when I get back from Europe. Then I would have internalized some conversational German and then can move on to French. I’m spending about 2 months in Germany and only about 2 weeks in France after all. And I got a private French tutor. (C.)

I think I have been too anal about things. (A shoutout to the world – occasionally I call C “Anal Boy”. He seems to like it.) I am learning to loosen a bit, don’t care so much about grammar and spelling, after all it is communication, the big picture I should focus on. Same with writing my academic writing, the problem is that I always focus on getting every sentence perfect, till writing becomes a huge chore and I don’t want to do it. And if I don’t do it, I can’t get my ideas out, and I am stuck at the same spot all the time.

I had some coffee after lunch and I think it’s infusing into my blood stream. (Feeling the hyperness.) I should probably go write. On the paper. Asa’s coming back next weekend, and I am going back to KL, and I really need to roll out this paper before then. It’s Tuesday today!!!!!

I’ve been spending my days unbored lately. Kokil gave me a bunch of ebooks, like 600+ of them, many of which I’ve been really eager to read. Too many books, too little time. I’ve seriously been restraining myself from visiting the folder that contains the books. I’ve decided to import maybe one or two into my Kindle and not overwhelm myself with all the choices. Right now I have Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf (English version) and Le Petit Prince. Don’t think I’ll be able to wade through Mein Kampf, I just downloaded it because it was alphabetically the first book in that folder. “Adolf”.

Also, like I’ve been ranting, the iPhone’s awesome and the possibilities are so limitless that I’ve been downloading stuff non-stop and marvelling at the apps there are. Playing games. Reading the news. Learning French. Making good use of the to-do list app. C likes to say that it’s a life changer, I don’t like to agree because it makes him cocky, but I guess he is right. It’s awesome.

For instance this morning I found this kickass app called TuneIn Radio, and I’ve been browsing through radio stations from all over the world. It’s as good as a teleport machine. It’s quite elating to imagine that someone across the world, in Albania for instance, may be listening to the same radio station, 89.3FM as I am. Awesome stuff. Sounds like some Muslim prayers going on. I didn’t know that Albania was predominantly Muslim before.

Thing with being unbored is that I’ve been too busy being distracted than really doing work. I’ve been writing this outline for a paper that I plan to finish within 2 weeks, and it’s been rather slow. In fact I usually think about the outline when I am in bed, when the iphone is charging at the far corner of my room, and when the Kindle is buried in my work bag. Then I start wanting to write notes. I’m actually cramming doing work -in between- all my distractions.

On a somewhat related note, my mum and my sister are both getting iphones. My dad’s getting it for my mum as a gift, and my godfather’s subsidizing my sister’s. Mine was given by C. What can I say, we’ve got awesome men in our lives.

Think I’m gonna go downstairs to get some instant noodles. Maggi Kari and an egg, the ultimate comfort food.

 

//update: Turns out that my Couchsurfer left some vegetables in the fridge so I’m having carrot onion tomato mushroom soup instead. Sweet as.

Was checking the bus ticket itinerary to go back to SG and realized in horror that I had only bought ONE ticket  to go back, for C and I! I am in so much trouble right now. My parents will throw a fit tomorrow morning when they find out. I think there are tickets for later in the day but basically C and I won’t be able to go back on the same bus, and this sucks super bad because I usually end up pretty depressed when I get back and getting back with him would  be actually very nice.

Drowning in self-loathe now. How could I have THOUGHT that I bought two tickets, but only bought one in reality? Could they have neglected to send me the second ticket via email? But how could it be? Senility come early, ’tis what this is. I haven’t packed a single item into my backpack, it’s 2am, I am properly depressed and dreading tomorrow.Supposed to leave at 9 in the morning initially =((((

Wish I was less of a scatter-brain =((((

I woke up with this chip on my shoulder today, though now I’m feeling a bit better. Areas of my life seem to be all fusing into each other, I never have time anymore, I feel like butter being spread out too thin on a toast that’s too big.

Perhaps this is also because of the new gadgets that I’ve acquired, I’d like nothing better than to just bury my nose into the Kindle, which I have done at any given opportunity – at the loo, on the train, in the bus…I’ve read at least 5 books now, and at any given time I have 3 books open concurrently. If this is not reading voraciously I don’t know what is. Speaking of reading, I am also currently learning 2 languages at the same time. French and German. I speak German with a French accent, and French with a German accent, that’s how messed up I am.

And then there’s the iPhone. It’s chock full of interesting stuff to do, the podcasts alone can keep me occupied for hours. The iTunes University. All the possibilities of new things to learn! And all the apps! I’ve been keeping myself amused in browsing through all the free apps available. C’s written a Run Log app, which I have downloaded – and I’ve also downloaded a period tracker, tons of games, some Chinese ebooks (coz the Kindle doesn’t do Chinese), news apps (awesome stuff to read on the bus), knowledge apps, language apps, productivity apps…. it’s just superbly awesome, and also VERY time-consuming.

Otherwise it is spending a lot of time with C, spending some time with different groups of friends, and of course working. Where is there time for work, when living itself is occupying so much time! So there, I am being stretched out, mostly of my own doing, being really easily distracted. But of course there are iPhone apps to deal with that, with to-do lists, with Evernote to jot down all of my thoughts, and sync them with my work PC… so much work to organize doing work, to the point that I don’t have time to do actual work… the irony.

New girl in the room, new officemate… at least I’ll have to keep up a semblance of doing work, and hopefully achieve the state of actually doing work. She seems nice =)

I’m getting my Kindle tomorrow that I ordered from David, and an iPhone 4 (present from C) the day after tomorrow! Happy happy joy joy, do you know how many free books I can read?? I don’t know either! All I know is that i’m super hyper happy now and also probably a little high from a lunchtime beer.

WTF just saw a book titled “The Princess and The Penis“. I’m going to read it just because it’s free and not because it is porn-ly titled. To redeem myself, I have to add that there are also many other classic works that I’m dying to read, such as Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” and Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”, I’ve downloaded them and previewed them through my PC Kindle software, and they look extremely promising. I’ve also downloaded The Prince by Machiavelli and a poem from Goethe, just to dip my toes in a little with familiar literary names that I don’t know what to expect of.

In short it is a free for all!! And I am super excited!!!

p/s. Victorian Erotica FTW!!!

Sayang cooking

C cooking Tomato Paneer

Stirring caramel into popcorn

Housemate Tron stirring caramel into popcorn (both caramel and popcorn were made from scratch)

Whisky

Miniature whisky

Awesome party – Haruka was here (she’s my fellow Couchsurfer from Japan who flew to Israel for true love) and Tron was  home, so the 4 of us (including C) hung out in the kitchen with various activities such as eating dinner, popping corn, making caramel, making caramel popcorn, and drowning ourselves in whisky. Tron works for some whisky distributor so he’s got boxes of the good stuff =D

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