First update since last year!

My title is a tad dramatic I know, after all last year was just 2 months ago. I blog in full knowledge that I’ve been doing the disappearing act for awhile. Life has been a whirlwind after I returned from my travels and between yoga and climbing sessions, I´m actually kept rather busy with chores, marketing, cooking and re-learning french. Plus my keyboard has somehow transformed itself to a french language keyboard by default after my diligent hours of studying (trying to get myself re-acquainted with conjugation, passé composé, imparfait and all things contributing to my bad french grammar via Frantastique! such a fun way to learn.). So each time I try to insert a comma, it defaults to a ǘ or ś . It is suffering from a bit of an identity crisis I think.

The last of 2013 slipped right by as we spent Christmas break climbing in Spain and heralded the New Year in the company of friends from home. As I gaze upon the picturesque gorge of Chulilla on Christmas day, I knew there was nowhere else I’d rather be.

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above the ruins of the Chulilla fortress

After Chulilla, I also spent some time wandering in Valencia and Madrid while A went back to school. Though my days were rather well spent in these bustling cities chomping down churros con chocolate and savouring spanish pastries, big cities with mega chain stores down pedestrianised shopping streets hardly hold much appeal to me. What I did stare at in wide-eyed wonder however were the ornate churches, the gothic intricacies adorning even the most ordinary street buildings and the grandeur and historical significance of the Madrid palace. Yet, it was not long before I missed the sound of howling winds atop cliffs and the feel of dirt under my feet.

I have mixed feelings about going home to Singapore in the near future, I do miss family and friends (and the food!) but the thought of being stuck in the urban jungle ignites a sick sense of claustrophobia. I really am living the life now and it will be tough to shake off the thirst to explore, after all adventure does leave you light-headed…and wanting.

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A day trip to Bruges, Belgium.

Closer to the end of January as the festive spirit permeates through social media via photos of reunion hotpots and pineapple tarts, I realise it is the first time I´m missing out on the Lunar New Year back home. Though it means being spared of customary small talk and inebriated feasting, I still miss the company of family a midst the festive season . My sisters and I still carry out the tradition of greeting our parents with oranges on the first morning of the New Year (bai nian), and when we were kids we’d peek into the red packets given to us just to see who received the most money. Traditions as such remind me of the need to cherish our family, the act of ‘bai nian’ allows us to voice out our well wishes; after all how often do we actually take time to wish our parents well? To generate some sort of festive atmosphere and to make up for the lack of bak kwa (bbq pork) and kueh bang kit (coconut cookies), I made it a point to buy loads of kumquats and also made nasi lemak for the first time!

Most recently, a friend of ours visited so we drove around the region quite a bit. A and I also visited Haarlem one morning, a small town just a stone´s throw away from Amsterdam.

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The town of Haarlem is rather compact and easily explored on foot. We took a stroll along the river bordering the town and saw several boathouses and beautiful sails, not to mention the requisite Dutch windmill.

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The external facade of the St. Bavo´s Church in Haarlem

As the weather is still chilly of late, there was not much to do except stroll and pop into several cafes in a day each time we felt too cold to be outside.

So this is it! My past 3 months in a flash-post, my first winter and I finally understand why it is so tempting to hibernate during this season. I am definitely looking forward to March/April when I can visit the famed tulip fields of this region!

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