Weekend in Berlin: Part 1

Hello!! I hope my overview of our weekend in Berlin kept you guys satiated for awhile. I didn’t have any access to wifi for a few days (and I am now back in Singapore) so I hope you guys aren’t too mad at me for putting up this post late.

Day 1 – 30 September 2016

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Thom and I flew from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Berlin Tegel Airport via KLM for only about 55 minutes – the flight was fairly uneventful except for a few minor turbulence occurrences which got me clutching Thom’s hand like it was a life raft. We were quite exhausted by the time we landed in Berlin since we had a 07:05am flight and had to be in the airport by 05:30am. But lady luck was shining on us and the both of us weren’t as cranky (probably because we were just two really excited kids), just a little sleepy and extremely hungry although KLM had given us a sandwich whilst onboard – we were pleasantly surprised that we still got a snack even on such a short flight!

When we got to Berlin, we initially wanted to take some form of public transport to get to our hotel since we had so much time to kill and asked the information counter at the airport for the directions but we decided that it was too confusing and we didn’t have the energy for it. We decided to take a cab from the airport towards our hotel which cost us about €25. The journey from Tegel Airport to our hotel took about 30 minutes max so it was not that bad. I just got quite restless during the journey because I was SO hungry.

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Picture courtesy of Berlin.de)

We stayed at the Mercure Hotel & Residenz Berlin Checkpoint Charlie. It was in such a great location – only a few minutes away from Checkpoint Charlie and several other places of interest. We got to our hotel at about 10:00am – which is way too early to check in and obviously most shops are just opening – and decided to leave our luggage behind and to go out and get a hold of our surroundings to kill some time. The both of us decided to walk towards Checkpoint Charlie since we were pretty sure that where all the action was going to be and most importantly, FOOD.

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We had some light snacks and hot drinks at a cafe directly in front of Checkpoint Charlie and spent a good hour or so people watching and watching the people dressed as American soldiers take pictures with other tourists.

Since we still had MORE time to kill – even after our effort at trying to waste time in the cafe – we decided to then head to the next best thing that we hoped would be open, the Mall of Berlin (which is a huge ass mall in my opinion, it could be compared to Vivo City in Singapore).

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Most of the shops had just opened and we spent a good 30 minutes chilling on one of their comfy sofas and using their free wifi – THANK YOU MALL OF BERLIN! They also had a huge food court with every single cuisine you could think of where we had our lunch in.

We decided after having lunch to walk back to the hotel and to just chill in the lobby in their uber comfy chairs and wait for the time to check in but then, we stumbled upon this super cool place called Charlie’s Beach – because it’s right by Checkpoint Charlie hence the use of the name Charlie.

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Photo courtesy of Tripadvisor)

The whole area was styled as how a beach side hang out place would, complete with sand and deck chairs. There were a couple of food trucks surrounding the place which gave off a very hipster-ish vibe. We chilled there for a couple of hours and decided to make our way back to the hotel since we saw dark clouds looming from far.

Anyway, after checking in to our room, Thom and I had a quick rest before heading out to find some dinner and to have a few drinks with his friend. We wandered onto Gendarmenmarkt (we didn’t know it at the time) while looking for a place to eat and it was so BEAUTIFUL at night.

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Got back to the hotel EXHAUSTED around midnight and we very obviously just passed out because we had an early day of travelling + long day of walking around trying to figure out the U-Bahn’s and subsequently getting lost.

Day 2 post will be up in a bit if I do not make the decision to procrastinate. But, I’m also trying really hard to push out all my Berlin posts lest I forget about any details that happened while we were there!

Overview: Weekend in Berlin

A quick summary/overview of our weekend in Berlin while the memories are still fresh in my mind!

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Travel Dates:
30 September 2016 to 3 October 2016

Flight Itinerary:
Amsterdam to Berlin via KLM: Depart 07:05, arrive in Berlin 08:05
Berlin to Amsterdam via KLM: Depart 17:25, arrive in Amsterdam 18:25

Weather:
An average of 16 to 20 degrees in the daytime

Where We Stayed in Berlin:
We stayed at the Mercure Hotel & Residenz Berlin Checkpoint Charlie in Schűtzenstraße. We found out after a few walks that our hotel was literally near to every single place of interest that we wanted to go to to.

Comfort & Service:
Front desk reception was decent at the Mercure, we wouldn’t know how well it is because we didn’t strike up any conversation with them during check-in as we literally had almost no sleep (I was half awake from 23:00 the night before because I was scared that we would oversleep and miss our flight).

Our room was fantastic. Bigger than we had expected with a desk, coffee machine with coffee pods, minibar, fairly big closet and a wonderful bathroom. The Mercure also has residential apartments with a kitchen, living room, etc if you have a much longer stay there or are coming with family/friends which would make it convenient to have everyone in one place.

Places of Interest We Visited:
Checkpoint Charlie
Mall of Berlin
Gendarmenmarkt – Konzerthaus Berlin, Deutscher Dom, Franzosischer Dom
Potsdamer Platz
Holocaust Memorial
Tiergarten
Bradenburg Gate
Soviet War Memorial
Reichstag Building
Berlin Wall Panorama
Berlin Wall
Kaufhaus des Westens

Transportation Around Berlin
We only used cabs/taxis on two separate occasions, once from the airport to our hotel (because let’s face it, it was nearly 09:00 in the morning and we didn’t have much sleep and we weren’t bothered with figuring out the public transport) and once from our hotel to the airport on the last day – each trip cost us about €25.

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(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Berlin has their own underground train system called the U-Bahn and the S-Bahn which has its stations conveniently located all over the city. Buying tickets for the underground might be a little intimidating at first, but you’ll get used to it after making one trip or so. Our hotel was located smack in the middle of two U-Bahn stations which was a pleasant surprise for us. But in the end, we realised that our hotel was within walking distance to most of the major places of interests so we didn’t use the U-Bahn as much unless we were going further out of the city centre.

Would We Return to Berlin
We would but probably for just 3 days instead of our 4 days that we had spent there. Part of the reason is that our hotel was so near to everything and we didn’t realise most of the major places of interest that we wanted to go to were in one place or within walking distance from one another. Berlin is a rather small city, smaller than we had expected and once you have gotten the hang of reading the U/S-Bahn maps, it’s really easy for you to get from Point A to Point B.

But for future trips, we might probably just be in Berlin for a shorter period of time before we move on to another part of Germany, like Munich for example. Berlin is an interesting city with its old and new buildings that are side by side and it was also interesting to see that the Berlin Wall was still up in some part of the city. It somehow feels kind of surreal to see it when you have studied about it before and know that the Wall has caused so much pain and suffering amongst it’s people.

And popular to contrary belief, German’s are NOT angry all the time, they are very friendly people. They only sound like that because of the way they speak (which I tried and loved doing HAHA). I’ll be doing separate day by day posts of our Berlin trip over the next few days, so keep a look out for it!

Life in a Nutshell {Part One}

 

I’ve been trying to make a come back to blogging but have been stuck with writer’s block for…….nearly 5 months. Yeah, I know, it’s not an excuse. But anyway,  I decided to just…..update with a post. Like Michael Scott from The Office says….

Sometimes I’ll start a sentence, and I don’t even know where it’s going. I just hope I find it along the way. Like an improv conversation. An improversation.
– Michael Scott

Anyway, I’ve had a pretty decent week so far. Pretty decent also translates to pretty boring and repetitive. I mostly spent my week:

  1. Cleaning the house
  2. Helping my mom to bake cookies for Eid
  3. Laundry and MORE LAUNDRY
  4. Finding the will to clean my room – it is a horrifying mess since I got home from Holland
  5. Finding the will to exercise again – still can’t find it
  6. Reading the books I got from the beautiful bookstore in Maastricht
  7. Trying to restart my bullet journal – I keep procrastinating
  8. NAPS

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Not really a productive week but eh, what can I do. I spent my day today doing a total purge of my bedroom which means, I changed my sheets and curtains, threw away my old textbooks, I VACUUMED and all in 32 degree weather. I’m pretty sure I burnt a bunch of calories just by cleaning my room judging from the amount of sweat that came pouring out of every pore in my body. And guess what? I’m STILL not done cleaning yet! I still have another load of laundry to do (when will this end?!) and my desk is looking like a tropical storm just blitzed through it.

On the bright side, I got my makeup looking all organized in the pretty acrylic drawers that I bought so that counts for something right??

My life has been a whirlwind so far and I have been feeling more than blessed and thankful for everything. When I used to be busy with Uni and work and trying to keep up with friends, I didn’t have time to pause and take a look around me to appreciate everything that I currently have. Now that I am no longer running around like a headless chicken and trying to keep up with everything and everyone, I’ve been able to fully appreciate everything that life has offered to me, the good AND the bad.

I am also in the midst of going through a life changing (not even exaggerating) decision which has also made me even more appreciative of everything and everyone. I do not feel like announcing what it is just yet (coz I want to keep it on the down low – there’s a ton of green eyed monsters around) but I will do so very soon – yes I know I am being very vague and NO, I am not eloping.

While the past 6 months for me has been such a crazy few months, it’s been nice for me to step back and catch my breath.

Well, this was not a bad improversation (in the words of Michael Scott) was it?

Coming Clean: My struggle with my eating disorder

I honestly do not remember when my eating disorder started. Sometimes I try to think back to the time where I would actually eat a proper meal but my mind can’t bring up any memory of it. I tried to remember the time where I would not care about how much fats or calories are in a single bite of the meal that I was having. If only I could go back to the time when calories and fat content in a single meal did not matter to me because now I can’t sit down to a meal and mentally calculate in fear and panic about how much calories I am putting into my body.

Throughout the past year (meaning 2015), I kept my eating disorder very tightly under wraps. I’m pretty sure my eating disorder started in 2014 but began to manifest itself more in 2015. I refused to acknowledge the fact that I have a problem nor did I talk to anyone about it. Even my bestfriend did not know about it, and believe me, I tell her everything. Everyone thought I was just exercising more than usual due to my rapid weight loss because I had acted pretty normal and gave no indication that I had an eating disorder. I would go on Instagram and post pictures of the meals I had cooked for myself, or the meals that I was having outside with my friends. Whenever my friends asked me out for dinner, I would gladly accept with much enthusiasm but in my head, I would be mentally stressing out about how much food I would have to eat so nobody would notice that something was wrong. And the worst part was, after every single meal that I had, I would force myself to vomit it back out due to the guilt that I felt for consuming so much food.

But as 2016 approached, everyone around me suddenly took notice to my weird eating habits. Everyone began noticing how I would always say that I’m not hungry when we went out for group meals, or how I would always say that I’ve eaten at home (when in reality, I have not), or how I would only take tiny nibbles of the food I had ordered and then said that I was full (when prior to that I could eat a whole meal and more)  or how I would go to the bathroom after every single meal I had even though prior to the meal I was complaining about how hungry I was. That was when everyone began questioning me about what was really wrong with me.

“Why are you losing weight so fast?”
“I just saw you last week and I swear you’re much more skinnier right now.”
“Why aren’t you eating?”

Besides the amount of stress I went through mentally by myself, I wonder if the stress felt by my family and friends were worser. They saw me rapidly losing weight by the kilos everyday and are probably in a constant state of worry for me. What was weird was that, as my eating disorder progressed, I knew that I was already skinnier than I originally was but I kept telling myself that I could do better than that. In a way, I started challenging myself to how much more weight I could lose and began eating lesser and lesser to the extent where I would not eat anything for a whole day. I started feeling insanely happy when I could fit into a size Small when just last year I was a size Large. I felt like that was a huge accomplishment for me.

It was obviously toxic.

But what finally made me admit to myself that I had a problem was when I blacked out in front of my bestfriend’s office while waiting for her to end work. Lucky for me, she came down from her office just as my vision blacked out and I dropped to the floor. She asked me what had happened but I just gave her the “I don’t know what happened” look. But at that moment, I knew that my eating disorder was getting way out of hand and I still refused to look my bestfriend in the eye and admit it. Surprisingly enough, after that rather traumatizing episode, I began opening up to some people regarding my eating disorder. And it made me feel like little by little, the weight is being lifted off my shoulders. What I was so terrified to admit to in the first place is actually saving me from spiralling further out of control with my eating disorder.

Now, I still have days where I refuse to eat anything with the snarky voice in my mind telling me that I am fat, but I am slowly beginning to heal. I have begun to worry less about calories and am more about enjoying the food that is being given to me. I still worry about not being able to fit into clothes that are sized Small or Medium but I have been trying to let go of that as much as I could. I’m so thankful for the support that everyone around me has given to me and could never be more than grateful for them.

What made me decide to come clean with my eating disorder was the fact that for the past few days, I have been struggling with constant stomach pains only to go to the doctor to find out that I have gastritis as well as a stomach ulcer. Thankfully, it is nothing serious but for now, I do have to watch what I eat as well as to not be constantly skipping my meals. As for what actually triggered my eating disorder, that is a story that I would like to keep to within my private circle.

To girls out there who are currently struggling with your body image, please remember that there would always be someone who loves you for how you look, never go down the road of harming your own body because the repercussions are real and you’ll never know the emotional pain that your loved ones are going through just to see you struggle with accepting yourself.

 

The 5 things I learned from 2015 (and 29 days into 2016)

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29 days into 2016 and here I am, sat at a busy Starbucks trying to churn out a research paper on a Friday night and having some kind of epiphany whilst I was people watching. How did I get here? Didn’t I just ring in the New Year in a completely different country, with a completely different group of friends, drinking cheap Australian wine and getting completely hammered?

I considered 2015 to be the year where I had to brave through a shit hurricane that was my life. Before 2015, I was relatively normal and sane. I had no depressing moments nor anxiety attacks before that. You see, before 2015, my self-esteem was slowly making its climb back up to what you call, the “normal ranks” before it plummeted down beyond saving. After what was a year of experiencing the shit hurricane that tore through my life, I could probably compare my year to Jersey Shore. Trashy as hell and certainly just a general shit storm (but still addictive to watch).

In the past year (and early 2016), I have reconsidered my life ambition (and career), fallen out with a few friends, got back together with old friends, made new friends, gotten into the path of a scorned (ex) lover, met a couple of douchebags/assholes, went on new adventures, gotten a part-time job which I love as well as seriously thought about not coming back home and living life as a hobo after the amazing time I had Down Under. Yeah, it was pretty much an eventful year for me although I’m really glad that it’s over. Without further ado, here’s what I learnt from 2015 (and early 2016) in which a shit hurricane blazed through my entire life.

1. Stop keeping your feelings to yourself, say what you feel.
In the past year, I have kept everything that had upset me deep inside my heart. I didn’t talk to anyone about it nor did I indicate that I was upset at something. So naturally, people walked all over me. When the fireworks rang in on New Year’s, I made a promise to myself that I would never let that happen again. So I started speaking my mind, but the downside to that was, I was also labelled as a bitch. But hey, that’s okay! I rather be a bitch who speaks her mind than be walked all over again.

2. You can make plans and be really organized, but be prepared for life to throw its flaming balls on you and burn your life to the ground.
I am by nature a really organized person, I like things to be placed where they are supposed to be, I make lists for everything and anything (Side note: I made an entire packing list for when I was preparing to go to Australia and I naturally overpacked) and I always need to know what I am supposed to be doing, where it’s supposed to be and where. I had an entire plan drawn out for what 2015 was supposed to be like for me but obviously it didn’t go as planned. I originally freaked out, but now, I’ve learned to sit back and loosen my grips on life (just a little bit).

3. Money is the root of all evil but having a savings account is a necessary part of being a “responsible adult”.
Saving money is an important process of turning into an adult. Go to the bank or speak to an adult who is successfully adulting, they’re going to tell you the same thing. I made a promise to myself to not center my life around money in the early days of 2016, but having a savings account is important for me to achieve and continue living the standard of life I currently have. Saving requires a ton of discipline but you should have a goal towards what you’re saving for. As for me, I think about how many burritos I can buy with all the money I have saved. And getting that Audi R8 Spyder could be pretty sweet too but that’s obviously out of reach, for the time being.

4. Never underestimate the power of prayer.
As I sat pondering over the mess that I call my life, I remembered one thing that I haven’t turned to in years. This could also be why I am in such a mess right now. I turned to God and turned to the power of prayer. I spoke to God while I was in a mess of tears in bed and lo and behold, my answer came the next day and I felt peace spreading through me. God is and will always be there for you, no matter how far away you drift from Him.

5. Take charge of your life, you are in control of it.
Decide each day how you want your day to turn out like when you wake up. Recently, I have woken up in the morning and will tell myself that my day will be wonderful and no douche can ruin it. And so far, it has worked. How your life goes depends on how you make of it. So, tell yourself positive things and positive things will start happening.

Bonus: Don’t be afraid to love, even when you’ve been hurt or if it’s not reciprocated.
2015 was the year when my love life went down the toilet. Admittedly, I was afraid to love again. After the whole scorned ex-lover debacle, I had to deal with the dark side of me that would scare anyone away. I started to love myself again after being repeatedly insulted with every single derogatory remark known to mankind. I learned to love everyone around me, no matter how undeserving they are of my love (Sidenote: I will still love an individual for themselves no matter how much they have hurt me or whether or not this love has been reciprocated. It’s dumb but it’s not in me to give up on anybody). And I started to heal from within. So my chickens, don’t be afraid to love, love is a powerful thing.

While I thought of 2015 and early 2016 to be a mess, I am eternally grateful for all of the life lessons that has been handed to me. I hope the rest of 2016 is ready for me, because I am ready to be the alpha female and kick its ass.

23 Days into 2k16

Woah, I can’t believe that it’s already the 23rd day of 2016 and it has also been 5 months since my last post on this page. Believe me, so much has happened in those 5 months which both completely changed my life and made my life better as well. I am also FINALLY, in my final trimester of Uni. It’s kind of a bittersweet feeling to know that my journey as an undergrad is finally coming to an end in less than 3/4 months but I’m also looking forward to see what life has in store for me after I graduate.

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Can I state the obvious and say what a dream Australia was for me?! ♥

If you didn’t know, I spent 2 weeks in Australia. Specifically, I was in Sydney, Gold Coast and Brisbane. I’ll be posting up separate posts so keep a look out for that! Beforehand, I never understood why my friends would keep on saying that they miss Australia so much even when they had just landed in Singapore. But now I know! Try leaving a place as beautiful as that after spending 2 weeks in it. Believe me, I shed tears the moment I sat in my seat in my return flight to Singapore as well as when I woke up and found myself in my own bedroom. That’s how much of a baby I am! Would I come back to Australia again? DUH! There’s many more things that I didn’t manage to do while I was there!

I would start on my Sydney and Gold Coast/Brisbane posts soon but I’m currently swamped with research essays, critical reviews, presentations and the likes. My final trimester in Uni is no joke, I’m excited to end but I’m also really overwhelmed that I have about 10 weeks left of Uni left. I’ll try to put up my posts soon (I know I always say this but it’s obviously a big fat lie lol) 

I Didn’t Mean To!

Woah, woah, WOAH

Did I just disappear from the blogosphere for over a month? Please accept my sincerest apologies. I was busy with school, assignments, finals and life generally. I am now on holidays for a few weeks so I finally found some time in my strict sleeping schedule to actually sit my butt down at my desk to blog. But I also have something to admit.

Besides being busy with finals and what not, I also got sucked into the world of…….. SIMS 4 (cue ominous music with thunder and dark clouds in the background). 

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Yeah that’s right, that life simulation game. The game I foolishly bought for myself for my birthday and for getting awesome results from my previous finals, the game that I had been waiting for, for months. I can play it for a whole day without having to eat or interact with anyone. It’s really bad I know. To anyone who has never played this game before, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT IT. You will lose your social life or what is left of it, I should know.

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This was me since the end of my finals.

So anyway, remember this post about how I deal with stress? Since this was a lighter semester for me (probably my last, I have to take full loads for my last two semesters. SEND HELP), I only did one thing on that entire list. Which was, to take naps at any time and any day. I even took a super long nap on the day before my paper and also went to bed at night super early.

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xcuse me coming through, it’s time for my 5th nap of the day.

I don’t know what it is, but I feel that sleep gives you a sense of cathartic release. Or maybe it is also a super nice way to procrastinate (my bed always seems to be much more enticing than my notes are). I went to the library to study ONCE, I got sleepy so I gave up and went home. Yes I can feel your judgy eyes all boring into my wretched soul. I’m sorry, my naps are much more important and of higher priority. I was not that worried for my finals because I feel that, the key to you remembering everything is to actually pay attention in class as well as to participate in class discussions. Oh, and also to ask lots of questions. Which I do all the time, I also come home from class and review my notes for the day. It’s a strategy that has proven useful for me (smirking like an idiot while I typed this sentence).

On to other news, another exciting event has started in me and my father’s boring and mundane lives since the end of the Premier League 2014/15. Premier League 2015/16 has commenced!! (THIS IS NOT A DRILL!) No more aimless weekend nights for the both of us, no sir!

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And with that cliché photoset, I bid you all adieu!

All gifs are from here.