Things I love

  • ~Louis
  • ~Family&Friends
  • ~IceCream
  • ~MyKindle
  • ~CoffeeBreaks
  • ~Sparkles
  • ~Knitwear
  • ~Vanilla
  • ~AllThingsLUSH~
  • GossipGirlxoxo~
  • Chips&Ketchup~

31 March 2014

My Funny Friends

So what was that about? Writing a pretty serious and soul-bearing post and then leaving you for 2 weeks? I do apologise. But today a short and light hearted entry.

Was looking through some things (trying to find clothes that still fit more like) and came across this card that my friends sent me before I moved to Jordan. Needless to say, they know me well.

ps my friends know that the pyramids are in Egypt but the point is spot on

18 March 2014

Lingering Legacies

**I originally wrote this post this time last year. I wasn't quite ready to post it then, but I am now. I have tried not to change many of the words I wrote last year, except in the instances to clarify my meaning. I also finally added my "conclusion", which, while I knew what I wanted to say, I couldn't quite articulate last year. One of the reasons I couldn't post this last year was because I didn't want it to be taken as attention or pity seeking. Though I now understand that those reactions may be invoked, I hope that this post will achieve what I hope to achieve with this blog in general, and that is to relate to others.**
I believe the last photo I have with my Dad. August 2007. London.

 Six years ago today, my father passed away. In the same manner that he didn't trouble anyone during his life, he passed away quietly at home. His death was mercifully swift in its own way, and I'm thankful it wasn't prolonged by a long hospital stay or the agonising uncertainty that accompanies his condition.

I wasn't there when it happened. By the time my brother and I arrived, we didn't get a chance to see him and say our good-byes.

I remember some parts of that day vividly. How I was grateful that my older brother told me that my father passed away and didn't allow us to wonder in vain whether we'd make it in time. How the only tears I shed were when I told Louis. How I emailed a detailed memo outlining all outstanding work to my boss at the time.

Anyway. There are some things that I regret in life. The regret that we're always told not to have in our lives. The regret that makes me think that, if I had a chance to go back now and change my actions, I would. One of those regrets is that I wish I'd spent more time with my dad. Even though I knew he wasn't well, I didn't value the time we had together. I wish I could say it was because of denial. That would suggest that I knew the gravity of the situation and couldn't deal with it. I wish I could say that. But I think I was too self-involved and chose not to register what everyone around me was saying...which meant I spent the little time we did ultimately have causing unnecessary problems to people I loved by lashing out at them and being selfish.

Whilst I was in Sana'a for my father's funeral, I didn't cry, and definitely not in front of anyone. Not once. I couldn't. Partly because I didn't want to be told it was normal to mourn or, alternatively, be told that this is the course of life and I shouldn't be sad. That my Dad is in a better place. But mainly because I felt too guilty.

I felt, I knew, that if I cried, everyone around me would think it was because I was mourning my father, and comment on what a loving daughter I was and / or how sad life is to take him away while my brother and I were comparatively young. But I knew the reasons for crying would be tainted by selfishness. Tainted by my regret for not showing him how much I loved and respected him. Of all of the missed opportunities. Or an accumulation of all the losses I felt in my life, related or not. My tears would not be pure and I didn't want to be perceived as a good daughter, when I wasn't. And so instead I preferred to remain dry eyed and just carry on.

I think of my father every day. I wish I had the maturity and sense, just common sense, to have sat and listened to him and discussed the significant and insignificant things in life. Death. So final. So heartbreakingly final.

Since the funeral I have shed many tears. And even if some are selfish, I allow them to fall. Ultimately, I know there is a sadness inside and an emptiness marking his spot.

Leading up to today, I've been thinking of legacies. My father left many legacies. Us, his children, and grandchildren. The foundations he built for Yemen. The school established in our village, Aghrab. The many lives he touched and the impact he made. I wonder how can I leave a legacy that will make him proud and maybe even continue the legacies he left us. I am not likely to. However, one theme shines through.

My father was always kind, never cruel and he always, always knew that his actions would have consequences, reactions. And he chose for those reactions to be positive, through ensuring that his actions were kind. My father, the man who, when he would have breakfast outside in the garden, would take tear pieces of bread to leave for the birds. And that is when I realised that his legacy was so beautifully simple.

Be Kind.

That is it. That is how I can continue my father's legacy. I know there will be times when I will want to be cruel or put others down. But I will try. I will try.

Rest in peace Baba. We all miss you so much.


14 March 2014


Friday afternoon is my favourite time of the week. I get a chance to make a cup of coffee, sit in our enclosed verandah and just be. I love that I usually have no where to go, nothing to tick off my list. Today the weather is not so great, as it's overcast and skies are threatening to open up and drench us. Thank you climate change. 

It's been a funny couple of weeks for me since coming back from Singapore. I came back to work feeling energised, but more than once this week I've literally and metaphorically looked around me and wondered if I was good at what I do. If I added value to the person I am supporting. I know that some people would say not to be too honest on such a public platform as a blog. But I guess I am voicing these insecurities because, while I do get worried, I know that I do add value. It's just that, when you're trying to be amazing at anything, realising you're only good throws you off course. I feel as though I've lost focus. 

The good news is that in about two weeks time I will be attending a conference that I know will blow my mind out of the water. I'm looking forward to being inspired, to absorbing information and then hopefully applying it over here. I am unbelievably excited at being in the same room as other PAs who have achievements rivaling those of people who have more spotlight on them. And you know what, this makes me so grateful that I am in a career that I am enthused by. If this were 5 years ago, I would have never been excited to be in a room full of lawyers. And that's the truth. 

Although it's been a funny two weeks, there have been some wonderful progress in a project that a close person to me is working on. There is a unique happiness and satisfaction in seeing someone you love and respect receive good news about something they've toiled over. I've also reached out to another close person and we're working together to make change in their future. 

When I was younger, I always thought that change had to be BIG, had to impact hundreds to be worthwhile. Until I truly realised that making a difference is equally as impacting if you can change the course of one person's hour / day / week / month / year. That's all it takes. It's quite a powerful realisation for me, as not only can I do this daily by supporting the person I support at work, it also means that I am finally putting the correct weight on the things I do closer to home. 

The weather outside it still gray, and I see misty rain is starting to fall. I hope you have a great day / weekend wherever you are in the world. 


12 March 2014

Panic in Penang!

Three days of our two week trip to Singapore was spent in Penang, Malaysia. Keeping true to my "someone else will surely know what to do on this holiday" mentality, I did zero research on what to expect in Penang. Luckily, my husband is an expert researcher and came up with some of the top things to do in Penang. It was a perfect amount of sightseeing at a leisurly pace. And, if you get a chance to shop in Malaysia, then I strongly suggest you do, as the prices are so unbelievably cheap! 

By the waterfront.

The City Hall being renovated.

The Pinang Peranakan Mansion

This was a really unexpected surprise. The mansion belonged to a Peranakan family in Penang and it is now a museum that showcases what a wealthy family would have owned and the kind of life style they would have lived. It is full of interesting furniture, adorned with mother of pearl and stones and beautiful, beautiful designs. This intertwined with the colloquial English influences, such as the delicate tea sets made it a very interesting afternoon. There were vast displays of glassware, in every colour and translucency, shoes, clothes and artifacts.

Part of the mansion housed "some" of the jewellery that the women used to wear and o.m.g. the extent of the collection was breathtaking. We asked one of the tour guides there to give us a small tour around the jewellery section and I always find it interesting to hear about different cultures and lives gone by, so it was worth having him give us a tour (his name was "Happy" so if you're ever in Penang and happen to visit the Mansion, do ask him to give you a tour =]).

By the way, the term peranakan is used for the descendants of the Chinese immigrants to Malaysia and the surrounding areas, such as Singapore (15th - 17th century). They were normally wealthier than the locals but they did intermarry with them. 

Gorgeous glassware.

The outside temple.

A bridal suite.

The upstairs hall.

Gold anklets.

Intricate costumes.

Carrie Bradshaw would be jealous.

Kek Lok Se Temple

I am pretty lucky because the first Buddhist temple I ever visited just happened to be the largest Buddhist temple in all of South East Asia. The Kek Lok Se temple is spectacular, though somewhat tarnished by the number of commercial shops within the temple selling little nick-knacks and playing loud music. Having said that, it was still amazing visiting the many shrines within the temple and seeing the statue of Kuan Yin, which is absolutely gigantic (though you wouldn't tell from the photos I have below).

Bronze statue of Kuan Yin.

The Pagoda.

A laughing Buddha.


Inside one of the many temples.

Penang Hill

This is really where the panic occurred. Don't let anyone fool you into underestimating the "tram" on Penang "hill". Before our trip to Penang, some of Louis' family were telling us that we really need to visit Penang Hill. So off we headed to the Hill after visiting the Kek Lok Se temple. We bought our tickets and queued up with what felt like hundreds of people, waiting for the tram to arrive. The tram itself can best be described as one of the cars of a modern day train. It had seats and hand rails. (I kid you not, I am having heart palpitations as I try to describe this ride) So in we all crammed, and I was thinking, can this take it? (I've done some reading since going on the fenuculiar, apparently it can ride up to 100 people. 100.)

So off we go. And I'm there calming myself saying, it's nice and slow. Soon enough, we sped up. And we continued gaining speed. And it was climbing this monster of a hill. And we kept climbing. And you look down and it's just steep... During our journey up this mountain, the tram decided to take a couple of breaks...which is fine if it wasn't rocking back and forth *blink*. And I wish I was exaggerating, I really wish I was, but the ascent took, like, forever. When we got off, I checked how high we'd climbed - 712 meters. That's pretty high basically.

It's a shame it was a misty day, as on a clear day you would be able to see the mainland and the bridge connecting Penang to it. But, it's beautiful being surrounded by the mysterious Malayan hills and realise how small you are compared to it all.

Cable Car Penang Hill
Looking down...
View from the top.
The Spice Garden

Although the Spice Garden is not that bad, I almost forgot all about it...I think because something disagreed with the others' stomachs and so we were just ticking boxes until we decided it was time to bus it back to Penang city.

So that's how we spent three days in Penang. There is just so much more of South East Asia to explore, it's almost like spending 2 weeks there makes no mark on the canvas of the region at all!

Pond in Spice Garden.

Yallah next holiday hurry up!


*Thank you to Ms E O'Dea for some of the wonderful photos :)

01 March 2014

Sunny Singapore!

Unlike my preparation for the majority of my holidays, I did actually do some research (read:tripadvisor-ing) on things to do in Singapore before we left. Although we didn't end up having time to do some of the nature walks that were recommended, we did manage to visit the prominent sites in Singapore. Here's a recap of some of the activities we got up to :)

The Zoo

I got a few surprised looks when I said that I really wanted to go to the zoo. But oh am I glad we did! Singapore zoo is apparently one of the top 5 zoos in the world. My motive for going was pretty simple - they had a polar bear. And he did not disappoint. It was really amazing being that close to one of nature's most beautiful creatures. Inuka, that's his name, has a lovely large pool at the SIngapore zoo. Sadly, he didn't feel like swimming that day but we did catch him at his feeding time. I just can't explain how humbling it felt to be watching him. I know that I will probably never see another polar bear and just having the experience was worth the trip to the zoo. 

But even if you aren't going to the zoo for Inuka, you should still try to visit it, if for the setting alone. As you walk around, you really get the sense of wilderness due to all of the tropical trees and plants. Then every once in a while you come upon a gorgeous reservoir, so peaceful. Makes you forget that you're only 30 minutes away from a busy city. There's a wonderful orangutan section where you could see the little baby orangutans playing with their parents. The zoo also had a couple of white tigers, absolutely stunning animals. We saw impressive rhinos and even some komodo dragons. It was a really, really fun day out. Don't forget to wear loose clothing and carry water though, as it can get really hot! 

Inuka, so shy.


Night Safari

We also decided to go on the night safari. I'm afraid I have no photos of that, as they strongly advise not having a flashing camera while you're out in the dark with wild animals! I enjoyed the night safari, mainly because you get to see nocturnal animals, like hippos, walking around and just going about their business. The atmosphere is also completely different to the zoo, in that I felt that I was in their territory and expected a snake to jump out at any point! The highlights were seeing some wallabies, servals and seeing a regal Malayan tiger.  

Gardens by the Bay and the Cloud Dome

Gardens by the Bay is basically a massive park that houses the "Super Trees" and two, large domes - one being the Flower Dome and the other being the Cloud Forest. Although I do like seeing flowers, I was more interested in visiting the Cloud Forest. 

It was completely worth the visit. Basically, the dome recreated the environments of some of the cloud forests around the world, Costa Rica and the Cameroon Highlands being a couple. Inside the dome is a very large structure, a mountain, imbedded with thousands of flowers, plants and shrubs. A waterfall falls from high above. It's very cool inside the dome, and mist encompasses you and you are literally spellbound by its beauty. There's an elevator that takes you to the top of the mountain and then there is a nice walk down the mountain. It's a little disconcerting in some places, because you're standing about 40 or metres above ground, walking on a pretty hole-y metal bridge. 

As you walk down, you can read about different cloud forests and their unique traits. You also read about the water cycle in the cloud forest and how the plants absorb water from the rain and mist around them. At the end there is a video about the forests and the impact that global warming has on them. And then before you leave, there is scale model of the entire Gardens, and a little presentation on the Super Trees and how they power the Gardens through solar and water energy. 

Although I was present for the presentation, I can't really tell you much about the Super Trees (science goes in one ear and out the other unfortunately). They are, however, spectacular. They are illuminated in the evening and you can watch a Light and Sound show, when different coloured lights come on in time with the music. 

Gardens by the Bay

The Watefall.

Definitely feel like I'm in an exotic rainforest!

View of Singapore from inside the Cloud Forest Dome.

Look at that!

Illuminated Super Trees.

Sentosa - Universal Studios

Sentosa is a tiny resort island that you can reach on the monorail from Singapore. You can also take a cable car, but we successfully (I mean, "sadly") avoided that trauma. I'm not sure how this happened, but we only managed to go to Universal Studios in Sentosa island, and not see much else. Which is a shame since I heard there's a massive Merlion there. Will just have to go back ;) 

Universal Studios wasn't even on my list of things to do, but I'm so glad we did! I'm not a fan of theme parks or big evil rides, but the ones in Universal were scary but not terrifying and were short enough to be over in a few minutes. What was also really cool was the Water World show that we saw. We hadn't planned to watch it but, again, so glad we did! It was like watching a movie in real life, but not like theatre. If you ever get the chance to watch it, then don't miss it. There were explosions, fireworks, jet skis. And so much more but I don't want to ruin for you. Another really cool experience was the "Sound Studio". This is basically a small hangar where you get to see how directors create a movie scene. For example, we got to experience a hurricane in New York, created with rain, fire, wind, a ship crashing into a wall(!) and lightening. It's impressive how much thought and detail go into a movie scene. 

I think in the future if I am in a city that has a Universal Studios, I'll try to pay it a visit.   

Water World show.

Turning into a Transformer.
Duck Tour

There are many bus and boat tours that you can take in Singapore. We chose the Duck Tour because it's a car that then goes into the water. Pret-ty awesome. I didn't take a photo of our Duck, but here's what they look like:
Singapore Duck Tours Bus photo Singapore-DuckTours_01.jpg
Found here
It wasn't a particularly long or comprehensive tour, but it was nice to be able to see the infamous Merlion (the one spouting water from its mouth) and learn some interesting facts about Singapore from our tour lady.


Louis had always told me that they like their food in Singapore. He was not wrong. You can find any cuisine at any price range. There are food courts in every mall, almost every MRT station and on the streets, where you can peruse different stalls, pick your food and then sit down to enjoy it. We had so many delicious dishes, including a lot of incredible duck, sushi, seafood (not for me though!) and, TOAST! I didn't realise before I got to Singapore, but they have a FANTASTIC coffee culture. There are coffee shops e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. serving delicious coffee (but ask for little or no sugar, as they like their coffee sweet) and toast packed with butter and kaya, a scrumptious coconut spread. And there are literally hundreds of bakeries dotted all around. So cheap, fresh and yummy!


Unique avocado dessert and some Japanese food.

Interesting ice cream flavours!
Kaya toast.
I'm really thankful and happy that I had the chance to visit Singapore and see some of South East Asia. It's the furthest East I've ever been and I'm keen to see other countries in the area. Thanks to all of Louis' family who made our visit a lot smoother and for taking us out for many unbelievable meals. I found Singaporeans to be very friendly and honest people. Here are some more photos I took during the trip. Hope you too get a chance to see this green and beautiful country!


Old colonial houses.

A colourful temple.

So many ships!
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