Sintra – Cabo de Roca / Pena Palace, Portugal

Day trip to Sintra: Lisbon came under Muslim rule in 714AD, which lasted almost 500 years. Here, we explored one of the historical sites with beautiful architecture.

photospam because i didnt write anything else, papa’s note9 got stolen here too. he was careless.




















Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon’s been on my list for awhile, so i was pleased we decided to visit! (partially engineered by me hehehhehe)

i suppose it was how i envisioned it – that iconic tram, the typical european quiet of a walkable city… i’m also pleased to have captured some happy pictures of my parents

i loved the egg tarts

a little sweeter than i’d expected, but creamy-lovely








Exploring a day in Lisbon, Portugal

From what I recall, Lisbon was quite a beautiful European city. The cool weather (i’m mostly in Europe in winter), the cobblestone streets in the Old Town, the iconic tram… the warm water chestnut we bought to munch on in the cold. yum!
I’ve been meaning to visit Lisbon, really. I planted the idea in the fam’s head when they wanted to do a Spain trip hehe. So yay! I’m glad my geographical imagination is fulfilled.


xmas lights

a very walkable city, we walked around the town

por cierto!

man basking by the pier in a unique way

the main square


flea market ish stalls


padre y madre

los paredes

teniendo una conversacion en las calles


a group of graffiti grannies that came together, proclaiming their presence on the streets

what could they be suggesting about selfie-taking tourists?


that unique lift

the sun rays that streamed into the corners in the mornings




hmm. where was this? honestly, i cant remember

one of the long escalators.
how Europe, I think to myself while recollecting the scenes
comparing them to latin americv, the grungy streets with much culture and flavour
i suppose i’m exoticizing / leaning towards the Different, being the Singapore-city-kid that I am, but i somehow prefer the latter as a place to explore – the stimulating sensations we otherwise get in latin american streets and markets


Madrid, Spain

another half a year had passed before i stepped into a spanish-speaking region again.
Madrid, the second time in a year! I know I’m so privileged. Many in the world wouldn’t have had the chance to come even once. In their lifetimes. I know, I know!


funny, these charms. cultural imports of guatemala. it maddened me a little bit, these commodification of culture – TNCs that adopt these ideas from developing regions, turn them into little saleable charms for tourists. im not sure how to explain it, i guess it makes me feel like these gimmicky things will certainly continue to generate profits for the rich(er). i suppose it reminded me of how without the know-how, you wouldnt know how to package and market this concept
and the widening disparity


the lobby of one of the hotels (with prents, duh). after coming back from my Taiwan trip (or actually even before), I am more certain than ever that the level of accomodation, for me, makes minimal difference. I pretty much just need a bed to sleep. and a good-to-have, air-con. the rest = optional. i think i’ve been very well-trained by gramma, whom i share a room with + no aircon, not even during the haze periods the past years, not even on the worst of days. 

not even when i had chicken pox 😦

a pretty sight i saw

papand the birds 

i cant remember the place, because i did not plan the itinerary for madrid and when im not the one doing the planning, i really dont quite bother remembering the places unfortunately



5. Madrid / Seville, Spain

En mi último día en Havana, I took in my final sights of this curious mix of tropical paradise with quaint nostalgia, the vintage cars that tourists swooned over but coughed out black fumes and required frequent fixing. The ubiquitous image of Che on the walls, in schools and even on someone’s tattoo, and how he strove to create El Hombre Nuevo – the New Man – who would work for the common good rather than personal gains. Beyond the free universal schooling, healthcare and ration cards, there’s too many things too complex about the socialist republic for me to comprehend within this short time. All I’ve caught a glimpse of is but the snapshot of lives lived out in the open.

Adios y muchas gracias por todos!

Pacquete – Netflix style? $2 a month? For like a whole hard disk of entertainment

2 cucs for the ration card to feed 3 people a month

My first step into Madrid

Hablas inglés? I had asked. Of course she does, I forgot. The water cooler, perfectly manicured streets, ah I had just slightly forgotten the qualities of a developed state.

And so it all comes to an end, the June break I’d been waiting for this January. I feel so troubled about my job thoughts kept arising. Is it that work life is just like that – troubling? Is it self-imposed? Be teachable, be humble, put aside your ego and just continue to improve, I tell myself. Is it because it’s my first job that I keep thinking of leaving? I think so.

5euros bus from airport to atocha
2euros bottle
3.50 left luggage
4 churros and chocolate
6 tapas
25 cents lemon drink
Souvenirs washi tapes 4euros and pen mirror 4 euros = 8€

I was too tired, and maybe somewhat Europe-scenery-saturated at this point, so i didn’t take out my camera to take any pictures, only those on my phone


i just had to have churros.

I then took a day trip to Seville, where I’ve always wanted to visit






Ah, those prints!




some gorgeous architecture (i have to say though, that at this point, i was rather tired – perhaps too tired to appreciate)

some tapas for lunch 

Gonna be back in December!





10. Cyprus / End

Route in summary (15 days): 
Athens, Greece –> (AegeanAir) Amman, Jordan –> Madaba, Jordan –> Dana Biosphere Reserve, Jordan –> Petra (Wadi Musa), Jordan –> Wadi Rum, Jordan –> Aqaba, Jordan –> BORDER CROSSING –> Eilat, Israel –> Rimonim, Israel/West Bank –> Jerusalem, Israel –> Bethlehem, West Bank –> Tel Aviv, Israel

Cyprus. Seaside town. Coastal resort. I am highly unlikely to visit Cyprus again; I say this not only because it is not my thing (hanging out on a beach doing nothing) but also because I’m probably not going to take a direct flight there, with the many coastal resort alternatives around. 

I arrived in Larnaca and had about a 10 hour layover. I chose it on purpose, paying some additional sum, instead of the 2 hours one, because this was my chance to explore. Explore a country (?) I had no geographical imagination about (but now I do, it’s no longer going to bug at my curiosity). It’s basically like… Greece, because I went to Larnaca. A CS-er who sent me a message said he lived on the Turkish side, and I didn’t understand. Only after some Googling and chat with a shopkeeper did I realise the territorial struggle in Cyprus, between the Turks and the Greeks. The wall. Checkpoints and difficulties in accessibility. I think there’s some UN peacekeepers at the border, or maybe that’s in the past. 

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It was raining a little, rainy season explains the off-season. I sat in a shop and read my book, ate some fries. Walked around the beach for awhile, looking at the little seashell souvenirs. Then I packed my bag and went back to the airport.

This December trip has been such a meaningful one. I feel like I’ve gained a deeper insight into the Israel-Palestine conflict, and a glimpse of how it affects the people surrounding this issue. What would you do, how would you feel and respond if you were in their shoes? It’s really hard to say. Such complications. I loved that we met so many wonderful people along the way, who were willing to engage us in conversation, to share their understandings with us, their interests, to expand my mind a little further about history, wars, being in the army, religion, and youtube channels / questions i’ve never wondered about prior.

Thankful, and incredibly blessed! Thank you to the travellers I met (Natalie, Amritsar guy) who sparked my desire to visit Jerusalem / Petra, Papa for Greece. 🙂

9 dec – land at 2am – amman
10 dec – dead sea
11 dec – amman (to petra)
12 dec – petra
13 dec – petra (to aqaba to eilat)
14 dec – wadi rum (?)
15 dec – eilat (skydive?)
16 dec – timna park (OPTIONAL)
17 dec – travel to jerusalem
18 dec – jerusalem
19 dec – jerusalem
20 dec – bethlehem
21 dec – tel aviv (lyn pack for airport)
22 dec – tel aviv (night – lyn reach airport at 620am)
23 dec – me fly to cyprus -> athens -> abu dhabi -> sg 

4. Santorini Sunset


The Santorini Sunset

If this is the crowd of tourists that winter receives, i can hardly picture what summer must be like

Santorini is actually a group of islands in a kind of circle, up until about 1500 BC the area was one island but after a huge volcanic explosion the island took its present form, hence the islands form a circle around the crater.

Santorini is a subduction-zone volcano, and is one of the active volcanoes of the Southern Aegean Volcanic Arc. These volcanoes have formed in response to the continued, slow, sinking of the African plate northwards beneath the Eurasian plate. At the northern end of the caldera is the Santorininian town of Oia; here you can see houses built along the volcanic rim of the caldera.














“Houses built on the edge of the caldera – The ancient civilization of Santorini was completely destroyed by a catastrophic volcanic explosion that occurred sometime between 1620-1640, BC. With every trace of life gone, all that remained was covered with volcanic ash, lava and pumice stone, which eventually lead to the creation of a compact soil, called “aspa”.
Today, houses are dug sideways or downwards into the surrounding pumice (volcanic rock). The main building material is the red or black lava stone. Fear of the volcano and earthquakes forced the locals to minimise the height of the buildings and the use of arches.”