if i walk down london’s streets to the ticking of the kitchen clocks— rows of billowing steam from stews and curries that do not remind me of home— i could almost traverse these eight hours, a second and a step at a time, outpacing the sun that stretches my shadow, undulating against the cobbled mews.
i adore the way you speak my name—the hook of your tongue reels me back from everything ugly, crushing my mental map of loss. i am named for the millionth time, but beckoned for the first. so i keep walking, addicted, faster than the ancient tempo of seconds,
fast enough to escape the trawler of reason,
begging time to let me catch you at the end of my afternoon shadow.
yet the line in greenwich is stubbornly still, itself a blade welded by visits of the sun, carving up the temporalities that melt away within these same four walls. a playground of conversation—childlike fun until you yawn and say good night and blow me a kiss i wish the wifi would let lag.
i don’t lose, my dear, i can’t, not to time nor space,
so that’s why i rush home, wrestling the hands of the clock, where i eat warm rice and xo sauce until i’m no longer starved of the illumination of my screen. until i forget that i am just like that paper-thin iris i plucked and hairsprayed from your bouquet,
in a dark room, leaning into that fluttering glow, praying it’s not bloomberg news and that the connection is just bad today.
day 1: london – marrakech arrived at our riad / had lunch at mechoui, recommended by our airbnb host, where we had amazing lamb tagine / got lost in the souks while exploring the whole medina / chilled at cafe guerrab with sombreros and a good view of the city / visited the jewish quarter of the city, mellah / bought some tea leaves from the berber souks (one vendor even threw in some free traditional moroccan lipstick, made from aker fassi) / attempted to visit bahia palace but be warned that the last entry into most attractions is at 4pm… / visited the towering koutoubia mosque / strolled around jamaa el fna / had dinner at oscar progrés where we had some couscous and more tagine
day 2: marrakech – agafay desert & atlas mountains we booked a day trip to the agafay desert from morning till evening / we visited the agafay desert, high atlas, kik plateau, berber villages, imlil waterfall, argan women’s cooperative and the kik valley / my favourite parts of the day were riding on camels and having lunch at an obscure but authentic restaurant in the middle of the valley / had dinner at kabana
day 3: marrakech woke up early to go to the jardin majorelle–yves saint laurent mansion and the ysl museum / had lunch at bacha coffee as a show of solidarity… waited for 1 hour but it was quite worth it / attempted to visit ben youssef madrasa BUT WE RAN OUT OF CASH / visited bahia palace (successfully) this time / had some coffee at cafe des epices, another rooftop bar, where we watched the sunset (highly recommend this) / had our last dinner at kui-zin! pigged out on a buffet spread of moroccan dishes such as meat stews, salads and desserts
places i wanted to visit but didn’t and you should totally visit on my behalf if you’re going to morocco: saadien’s tombs, badi palace, ben youssef madrasa
important info: bring cash to exchange for moroccan dirhams at the marrakech airport, visit the attractions before 4pm because that’s their last entry time despite closing at 6pm officially and only eat from stall no.1 at jamaa el fna
my clean sheets, baptised, stale and clawed by the january frost, draping like a helium balloon days after the party lights have dimmed. my pillowcase smells not of breathless kisses, my duvet tangled not by wrestling feet. the unknowable warmth of the friction between our skin—its promise leaks into the atmosphere with winter mist that clears. we share nightmares
through a screen, but tuck the glow of our dreams, tenderly, in the gaze we share when our foreheads touch. my father once compared flower petals to hands held, and i see it now in our alternating fingers—yours, mine, yours then mine, yours, mine, and yours— locked together by thumbs tracing alphabets we have yet to teach each other. it was nice having something to lose and something to learn.
where were our hands before we knew to hold them this way, before we ever met? yours, embossed by maroon grains of the track that paved your glory. mine, coughing up another polite email that wishes well weekends. yours, gripping a steering wheel when you drove away from a girl you loved and mine, down my throat after a wednesday night i don’t remember. that they found each other was a miracle, dearest,
despite the episodes unwatched, the skyline dinners uneaten, your cheeky dog not walked. i stroke the pixels of your cheek, the same one i kissed good night for the last time while shredding any residue of logic. my parched lips are drained of their rosy tint you so loved, scaly under the desert moonshine. its cold nights tell me i should have lingered
on your chest a little longer—now i only get warmth from the sun, its rays a faint gleam next to the beams of your smile. the one we joked would make you a qualified dentist. we joked about the freefall too, wagering flights and fragments, because we needed humour to forget how were always teetering on the edge of something, darling,
like beggars dreaming of manhattan lofts,
and my mistake was simple. the mountains i begged to make me feel small— i never asked to make me happy.
day 1: copenhagen we cycled to along the nyhavn river and passed by the det kongelige bibliotek and the børsen / reached the iconic nyhavn where we strolled past the christmas stalls along the waterfront / had breakfast at apollo bar (try their banana bread!) and explored the kunsthal charlottenborg, a charming little square tucked in a quiet corner of the area / for lunch, we had some great smørrebrød (our first of many) at nyhavns færgekro / visited the ofelia plads but it was less busy than it would’ve been during warmer seasons / explored the christmas market at kongens nytorv and spotted the mindeankeret (memorial anchor) / we paid a visit to the famous freetown christiania and found green george of thomas dambo, one of many giant statues dotted across the city / walked past the church of our saviour / almost had lunch at det lille apotek LOL but because we didn’t want to have their christmas menu we went to ARKET cafe instead / we did some window shopping at højbro plads and strøget, two famous shopping streets / stopped by the national museum of denmark / had a fun night at the amusement park in tivoli gardens
day 2: copenhagen we cycled to the botanical gardens and strolled through the snow-capped park / visited the rosenborg castle which overlooked the king’s garden / passed by nyboder, an iconic neighbourhood with yellow houses / had lunch at torvehallerne, a food market. I tried some porridge from the famous local chain grød and fell in love / walked to kastellet where we visited the quintessential little mermaid statue / sat inside frederik’s church for a while / walked around the grounds of amalienborg / had lunch at amadeus where we had even more smørrebrød / had dinner at puk
day 3: copenhagen – odense took an early bus to odense, the third largest city in denmark / had some bread from føtex and lagkagehuset for breakfast / went into st. canute’s cathedral / strolled around the ground of eventyrhaven / had coffee with ms ang at nelle’s coffee & wine, one of the city’s most famous coffee shops / window shopped in the city centre / had dinner at giraffen and watched the world cup finals there!
day 4: copenhagen – malmö, sweden took a day trip to the closest swedish city, malmö / had a lovely breakfast spread at ruths / strolled through lilla torg and viewed some exhibitions at the form/design centre / continued walking to gustav adolfs torg and malmö rådhus (town hall) / went into st. peter’s church / walked to malmö castle / escaped the rain by reading some books about libraries at malmö city library / ate lunch at smak, where they have a daily menu and an amazing buffet of sides including roast potatoes, bread and salad / shopped at grandpa and ab småland to buy some souvenirs / had dinner at malmö saluhall where we tried kung pao chicken at street food by pink head, swedish meatballs at clemens kött & husman and gelato from favvo glass
day 5: copenhagen – london on our last day, we visited the exhibitions at ny carlsberg glypotek for free (because it was a tuesday) / had lunch at the little yellow coffee bar where they had some really huge portions of smørrebrød
day 1: we arrived in the afternoon and had lunch at wroclawska, where we tried traditional polish dishes such as assorted pierogi (my favourite was the one with the cheese), bigos, and kotlet schabowy / we visited the wrocław christmas market at the market square, and walked around the museum of bourgeois art / we stopped for some donuts, or pączki, at nasza pączkarnia / we went back to the christmas market and had some amazing hotdogs, churros and roasted chestnuts
day 2: we climbed up the katedra św. marii magdaleny to reach the bridge of penitents, on which we got an amazing view of the cityscape / we headed to konspira for lunch, where feasted on more polish food such as placki ziemniaczane, żurek, gołąbki and grilowany karezek / we took a cab to the japanese garden and strolled around the centennial hall / we took another cab to the tumski bridge connecting ostrow tumski, the cathedral island. there, we spotted the cathedral of st. john the baptist / we crossed the sand bridge to get to the wrocław market hall, where i got a cup of coffee from enklawa wrocławska palarnia kawy / we window-shopped at galeria dominikańska / grabbed dinner from MANI ToGo
our first foray into multi-city reading week trips, which i am now inspired to replicate for all my future travels! we spent two days in budapest, hungary, and one in vienna, austria. our itinerary is at the bottom of the post!
day 1: london – budapest visited dohány street synagogue on the way to our airbnb / had lunch at vakvarjú restaurant / coffee break at the blue bird cafe, an independent roastery / visited st. stephen’s basilica, the largest church in the capital / snacked on a chimney cake (kürtőskalács) from a roadside stall / took a cruise along the danube river, on which we spotted the hungarian parliament buildingamong other attractions / had dinner at menza étterem és kávéház, where we got to try the traditional hungarian dishes such as fried bread (lángos) with garlic cream soup, savoury meat pancakes (hortobágyi palacsinta), pork medallions (szűzérme) and tyrolean apple strudel (which is native to austria).
day 2: budapest woke up early to get a panoramic view of the city from fisherman’s bastion, where we also hung around the buda castle, st. stephen’s statue, havas boldogasszony churchand matthias church / got coffee from coffee stand kazinczy specialty coffeeshop, of which there are a few scattered across budapest. such good coffee for a little more than a pound! / walked a disproportionately long distance to see the chief warm mini statue by kolodko along the banks of the danube / had brunch at central market hall, where we tried many traditional hungarian dishes such as chicken paprikash (csirke paprikás), dumplings (nokedli) and stuffed cabbage leaves (töltött káposzta) / walked across the liberty bridge / window-shopped at vörösmarty tér / afternoon tea at the grand new york café / spotted the shoes on the danube bank / dinner at mazel tov, a gorgeous garden-themed restaurant serving israeli or mediterranean fare / dessert at karavan food market.
day 3: budapest – vienna took a three-hour long train ride to austria because we’re insane / visited the belvedere palace / walked to karlskirche / got some snacks at naschmarkt, an outdoor market. we got bratwurst with sauerkraut from george am / had lunch at the famous griechenbeisl, where we tried several traditional austrian dishes such as viennese boiled beef (wiener tafelspitz) and roast pig leg (stelze vom jungschwein) / coffee break at fenster cafe, one of the top 50 cafes in the world and a unique coffee-in-a-cone offering (fensterccino) / travelled to schönbrunn palace / went back to the city centre where we walked past attractions such as the kunsthistorisches museum, rathaus, volksgarten and the hofburg / travelled to st. stephen’s cathedral / visited kleines café,where before sunrise was filmed / travelled back to hungary and had dinner at the michelin-featured stand 25 bistro.
day 4: budapest had breakfast at à table and did some souvenir shopping.
took a weekend off to drive up to the famed lake district—a great reset button on life i needed. our itinerary is listed at the bottom of the post!
day 1: (london – cambridge – windermere) rode to ealing to collect our car / drove to cambridge for lunch at baan thai, where pardeep claims serves the best green curry / got some ice cream and hot chocolate from jack’s gelato / we drove until we reached windermere, cumbria, at night / had a huge dinner at cafe italia and turned in early.
day 2: (bowness – ullswater – keswick – ambleside) drove up to the lakeside at rayrigg meadow where we walked down a long wooden deck / had breakfast at the magic roundabout in bowness / took a cruise on the windermere lake from bowness pier / drove through the mountains via kirkstone pass and stopped by a few times to roam around the hilly grass patches along the highway / stopped by ullswater lake to skip a couple of stones / we continued our drive to the town of keswick where we enjoyed nice tapas dishes and pizza at the square orange cafe and bought chocolates from friars / drove down to ambleside and watched a football match at ambleside tavern / had another italian dinner at dodds restaurant.
day 3: (orrest head – bowness – kendal) woke up at 6am to hike up orrest head where we watched the sunrise / left our airbnb and ate a really good brunch at homeground coffee / drove to bowness again where we visited the world of beatrix potter, a museum featuring the world of peter rabbit, after which we had an amazing cup of hot chocolate and churros from choccobar / we ended our lake district tour by visiting holehird gardens and levens hall in kendal / our last dinner was in cambridge at yim wah.
here are some snippets of my week-long road trip with my family in paris and northwestern france! our full itinerary is included at the bottom of this post.
day 1 (london – paris): arrived on the eurostar / had lunch at bouillon chartier, a casual and authentic eatery recommended by our french neighbour in singapore / visited the palais garnier, a famous opera house / went to the louvre museum mainly to see mona lisa / strolled along the seine across pont du carrousel and pont des arts. lots of street shops selling vintage posters / took a cruise down the seine and spotted notre dame, louvre palace, pavillon de flore, the conciergerie, andthe pont des arts / had supper at cafe le brebant
day 2 (paris): breakfast at le valentin jouffroy / hopped onto big bus paris / made a stop at the champs-elysées and the iconic arc de triomphe / lunch at l’alsace where i had a humongous serving of beef tartare / walked to the petit palais / rode on the bus to trocadero square and walked through the trocadero gardens / crossed the bridge to the eiffel tower and relaxed at the champ de mars / shopped at the galeries lafayette, a grand department store
day 3 (paris – versailles – giverny – rouen – caen): breakfast at au cadet de gascogne in the hilly neighbourhood of montmartre, where one can catch a panoramic view of the city / entered the sacré-cœur basilica / drove to the palace of versailles and went on a guided tour of the palace and its gardens / drove to the house of claude monet in giverny, the source of many of his paintings / drove to rouen, the capital of normandy / spotted the cathédrale notre-dame de rouen / had dinner at le reverbere, a restaurant in this year’s michelin guide / spent the night in caen
day 4 (caen – bayeux – mont saint-michel – saint-malo – rennes): breakfast at cafe henri, followed by a boulangerie run at talemelerie guillaume / walked around the city and spotted st peter’s catholic church,st peter’s gate and caen castle / drove to bayeux / visited the museum of the battle of normandy / drove to omaha beach to see the memorials / visited the normandy american cemetery, the burial site of fallen american soldies in ww2 / travelled beyond the coast to the famous tidal island of mont saint-michel. we went during the low tide, so we were able to walk around the commune / drove to the port city of saint-malo / had really good seafood dishes for dinner at l’ancrage, a friendly and cosy restaurant featured in the michelin guide 2019 / drove to rennes, the capital city of brittany, to spend the night.
day 5 (rennes – chenonceaux – amboise): breakfast at boulangerie ange / spent a few hours at château de chenonceau, a 16th-century castle / went for wine tasting at the caves of pere auguste, where we ended up buying nine bottles of wine / classic french dinner at chez bruno in amboise / spent the night in château des arpentis, a 12th-century chateau repurposed as a hotel.
day 6 (amboise – la vallee): spent the whole day shopping at la vallee outlet mall. i was mostly just reading at pret for hours on end as my family shopped… / had dinner at italian queen
day 7 (paris – le havre): hopped on a bus to visit my friends in sciences po at the le havre campus / bought a quiche from de saint nicolas bakery / had dinner at grace’s
day 8 (le havre): rode on a lime scooter to the sciences po campus / browsed books at la galerne / walked around le volcan / went inside st joseph’s church / bought some chorizo bread from boulangerie au fournil de pascal / walked down the le havre beach / bought some art magazines from les yeux d’elsa, a vintage shop
Today, I finally spat out your name, single syllables starting pointed and steely, harsh at their tips but meander gently into curves—the seed of a fruit, one ripened last season.
But last season was just yesterday, and I am
a miser in love. The melody of her name plays as a maddening strum of your tongue— the way you stretch it across a lovesick sigh, have you noticed? Cocooning it with such tenderness, awaiting her metamorphosis about which you narrate predictions to me—the fool who wishes those elegant, confident, poised wings of your dreams will
Guillotine my gaze, like the way they cleave the air. I wish them to sweep into a distant world your reflection, the one that is dancing and falling off the rim of a martini glass, a treacherous caldera… the one I can’t save from being entranced by the spotlights, from being kissed and devoured by the intersection of a flare.
The jazz in the lounge is swollen with my passion and I’m still the fool, and still the miser, suspending a pointless hypothetical in the air, its pendulous swing lunging my words out, then in, then out again. Perhaps it’s the alcohol and the scent of the stars— they press me dangerously close to honesty, brandishing a candour so bold it would cement every plot hole I skirt around, undo every reef knot you said, more than a sextant, would save a seaman’s life.
Deeper into the night, the wine softens my edges and your faults trickle away, with wine legs that seem to mock my tear-streaked face.
You ask me of the plague in my mind, the pensive swarm that shrouds my routine smile,
and I want to tell you that her beautiful wings did nothing for me, but also that love makes me a miser, a fool, a girl who hopes that for you, one day those wings open wide.
day 1 (ubud): went white water rafting in ayung river, ubud with red paddle bali adventures, where lunch was provided after our 2-hour ride / went to aloha ubud to go on multiple bali swings / drove to ubud palace / explored the ubud market where we bought a few crochet tops / had an indonesian dinner at ibu rai / clubbed at la favela
day 2 (kuta – uluwatu): ordered breakfast from mannaka bali (i loved the charcoal latte), which we ate on a beach chair in kuta beach / visited garuda wisnu kencana cultural park / had lunch at single fin, a cliffside bar popular among surfers / visited the uluwatu temple in the evening / had dinner at finn’s beach club
day 3 (mount batur – canggu): woke up at 1am to hike up mount batur / watched the sunrise from the summit and had breakfast afterwards (a banana sandwich and eggs) / took an afternoon nap before having lunch at potato head / strolled along the beach / had a japanese buffet dinner at shishi / clubbed at motel mexicola