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Who needs to make long-distance phone calls when you can stuff all your former Singapore colleagues in a phone booth?

Yes, we’re clearly tourists.

Chloe and I spent a couple of days in Madrid, essentially eating our way through the city: tapas, paella, churros con chocolate, sangria, manchego… mmm! Madrid also happens to have 3 world-class art museums all on one street (hola Picasso, hola Goya, hola Velasquez!) and beautiful gardens where one can basque in the sol and the calor. Viva Espana!

I’m experiencing culture shock. Also, my teeth are cold.

Those are just 2 of many rather astute observations I’ve made so far in London, others including: “Hey! I’m not the tallest woman on this train,” and “Woah! All the jeans in this store fit over my hips,” and “You mean, the sandwiches here taste good?”

Otherwise my first 2 days in the UK can be explained by my favorite SE Asian saying: same same, but different. Allow me to present some photographic evidence to support this claim.

My Neighborhood: same same… but different:

The Local Park: same same… but different:

Shrines: same same… but different:

And breakfast: same same… but different:

None of this feels normal yet.

Clockwise from top left: (1) Street lamp, (2) Galleries, (3) with M in front of the Opera, (4) blanquette de veau, (5) Hotel de Ville, (6) cafe au lait, chocolate and croissants, (7) bonbons, (8) with C at Le Pain Quotidien, (9) Notre Dame.

I was here –

– with a lot of love, a lot of laughs, a lot of happiness – and it was just as amazing as you might imagine.

Is it really Monday morning already?

Sometimes living in Singapore can feel like a vacation. My job is great, I meet friendly people from all over the world, I spend January afternoons at the pool, and take fabulous $50 weekend trips to Malaysian beaches.

One downside however, and something no one warns you about, is that the international community here is highly transitive. People come in and out of your life at warp speed, and your social circle one month is liable to look quite different the next. Developing close relationships here is a risky venture, as you can never be sure how much time you’ll have with friends, lovers, coworkers, etc.

So truth be told, I’ve been bummed since one half of my favorite French duo returned home for good last week. But Frenchy #2 whirled in the door this morning, returning from her 7-year vacation at home (ok it was only 3 weeks), and bringing with her a lot of sunshine!

Green sunshine, that is! In a Laduree box! Mmmm hamburger cookies…just the thing to cheer a girl up!

S, my future dentist thanks you for the business.

On a separate note, have you ever met a girl crazy enough to pack an ENTIRE suitcase full of breakfast cookies? I have………

Has anyone ever heard of light painting before?  Me neither…

Mes amis parisiens, Mickael and Remi, are incredibly talented photographers in their spare time (and incredibly nerdy during all other times) and they took some really amazing light painting pictures this week.  I was so impressed that I wanted everyone else to see them too.  Really guys, these are so cool and I’m proud of you!

WARNING: don’t try this at home.  Messieurs Geniuses set their friend’s hair on fire with a sparkler.  Apparently the house smelled like grilled pork for the remainder of the evening.  Don’t worry, the poor girl still has (most of) her hair…

But in case you decide not to heed my advice and you DO try this at home, here are some instructions from Mickael (via gchat):

5: 54PM the key is long exposure
you put your camera on a tripod
in a very dark environment
inside, or outside at night
5:55 PM then you take the picture
with a long exposure
the people need to stay still if you don’t want them to be blurry
5:56 PM and someone else take a flashlight, a sprakler or whatever
and moves the light source
5:57 PM since the light source is very bright,
the way it goes will show up in the picture
I have a remote control for my camera
I start to take the picture and stop it when I want
5:58 PM so the exposure can actually take several seconds
it makes sense?
I lost you
somewhere …

From left to right: 1) Gamla Stan, Stockholm; 2) Swede shades; 3) A Carolina-style rehearsal dinner; 4) Swedish pastries; 5) the Summer Church; 6) Feet in the Ume river; 7) Berries in the market; 8) Ready for a wedding; 9) Stockholm from the water; 10) Mazel tov!

People in Stockholm are so fashionable (and tall, and blond, and ridiculously good-looking). But if you want to try and blend-in you should wear stripes. We’ve been playing Where’s Waldo (where’s Sven?) all week..

From my hotel room on the 12th floor, overlooking the center of Umeå and the Ume river.  It’s cool and sunny – otherwise known as perfection!

On a separate note, everyone looks like me.  This is rather surreal – coming from Singapore – where I stick out like a sore thumb.  Unfortunately, everyone also expects me to speak to them in Swedish.  I’ve been giving a lot of blank stares…”yah, sure? you betcha?”

August 2020