marrakech, morocco

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 majorelleyves 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

clean sheets in january

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. 

denmark & sweden

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

wrocław, poland

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

budapest & vienna

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 building among 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 church and 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.

lake district, uk

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.

road trip in france

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, and the 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

The Intersection of a Flare

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.

bali, indonesia

full itinerary is at the bottom of this post!

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