Taming the monster

Finally, I tamed the monster of a wardrobe over two weekends. Gone were the disobedient bulges that keep the doors from closing. No more avalanches of falling garments. Tumbling clothes are now the strict domain of the washing machine.

I was busy patting my own back. Then came this comment:

“The quantity has not depleted, though it definitely looks neater.”

But I had just packed two extra bags of things to give away!

I had the good fortune of not having to move homes in the past few years. Whereas prior to living in my current home, I was moving home every 1 and a half years on average. All the packing and shifting that came with each move was a chore. Yet each move was:

  1. An opportunity to purge.
  2. A reminder not to buy stuff next time. Not just buying unnecessarily, but even when it’s truly necessary, ask myself one, twice or even thrice – is it truly a need or is it just lust masquerading as need!
  3. Even if it is truly a need (as the little devil on the shoulder temptingly whispers), remind myself what a pain it would have to be when you pack and shift homes next. Home shifting enough times is an effective deterrent.

Suddenly I feel like resetting the button. Rejolt the system into simple living. Travel and live out of a bag for a couple of years.

Raw beauty

14 June 2014. Krafla area, Mývatn region, north Iceland.

The many faces of Iceland are beguiling. At times dramatic and imposing. At times stark and desolate. At times placid and beautiful. At times wild and grotesque. The land of fire and ice is a place of contradictions. Life goes on in such inhospitable conditions.


What started out as a pee stop, turned out to be a 3 hour detour on foot around this stunning area of Leirhnjúkur, part of the Krafla caldera.

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In Leirhnjúkur lava field, I lost my sole.


After seeing the world for 5 years together, my boots fell apart here in Iceland.


Still, that didn’t deter a walk up to Viti crater.


This is one of the views from Viti crater.


From Myvatn, we drove east to Egilsstaðir. As if the feast on landscapes for the day is not enough, every turn of the way brought us through steep passes and more stunning scenery. Then we just had to stop here.



We got to Egilsstaðir, and saw a vertical rainbow; peter tells me it’s a sun dog. In June here in Iceland, it’s 23 hours of day light, magnificent sights and raw beauty.



The luckiest

18 June 2014

What a tremendous week it has been in Iceland!

We had so much fun!

I miss the great company already!

Will write more later. Currently Iceland ranks right up there with Scotland and Hokkaido as some of my favourites in the northern hemisphere.

For now, I continue my journey in Bergen, Norway.

I feel as if I am the luckiest person ever.



Relaxing by the little lake Lille Lungegårdsvannet in the city centre of Bergen

Ps. Check out my new shoes. I bought them as replacements from a supermarket in Egilsstaðir, Iceland. My hiking boots had finally fell apart – that’s after 5 years of seeing the world together! I miss those boots.

These temporary replacements are rubber shoes like wellingtons, worn mostly on farms, bought in Iceland, brand owned in Norway, but most likely manufactured in… Malaysia!

A never-ending feast

12th & 13th June 2014. Svalbardseyri, Northern Iceland.

My favourite time of the day is dusk, when everything is drenched in gold and coated in pink. Here and now, sunset takes even longer. 23 hours of sunlight a day. It’s like a never-ending feast.

View of lighthouse by the fjord from the cottage where we are staying in Svalbardseyri.


Rare it is to see both the midnight sun and midnight moon.



This is Peter playing Sunset, an English traditional bugle call. Perhaps the last time Iceland heard this was during WWII?


Long day

As I am writing this it’s almost midnight and the sun is setting long windedly. June is the month of long days in this part of the world.

This photo was taken at about 10pm in the city centre of Reykjavik.


Earlier today, we soaked in the Blue Lagoon which is rather industrialised and swarmed with people. As public thermal pools go, it isn’t quite the best I have been too, but I had loads of fun with my friends!

The skies have been ever changing since we got here. Just look at the thick overcast closing in on the bright blue.


A 36-hour detour

6 June 2014. 5pm, Changi. Finally reached the airport. It’s raining. Wolfed down a late lunch while talking to my parents on the phone. I’ve been so busy the past few weeks that I haven’t had the chance to talk to them.

There are many people in the airport. I wonder where people are travelling to.

5.35pm. Flight departs for Bangkok
Maju lah!


7pm. Reached Bangkok Survanabhumi. Got a foot massage and then a boarding pass. Read a novella.

There are just as many people in this airport.


1135pm. Depart for Vienna.

7 June 2014. 550am. Arrived in Vienna. The last time I was here, I was only 20 years old.

So early in the morning! What shall I do? Go to a market!

Like most markets in the world, there was a market melee. Red-faced people, loud voices, aggressive hand gestures. For some reason, passerbys thought I understood what the quarrel was. I don’t.

This caught my eye. So much detail.



The zombie of sleep deprivation begins to overwhelm me. Took a walk in the park in the summer sun. I begin to regret buying the two bottles of wine earlier at the market. Or maybe not. If only I have also bought some cheese…

930am. Sat in front of Schoenbrunn Palace, and drinking my second cup of coffee for the day, a melange.


I would love to catch a summer open air concert. Alas, there isn’t one today.


Headed over to the Leopold Museum. Screening was the video And yet there was art! which showcased how Austrian artists such as Egon Schiele, Albert Konig, Albin Eggen-Lienz dealt with their experiences of WWI in their art.

The late 19th century and early 20th century Vienna flourished with intellectuals. The exhibition showcased how these talents in art, literature and music crossed paths.

The jet lag set in. And I was in dire need of a nap. So I went to the park. Zzzzz…


I can’t tell you how much I needed that nap.

4.30pm. At Freud’s former residence on Berggasse 19, where he stayed from the age of 35 to 82 when he left for London following Nazi Germany’s so-called annexation of Austria. He died a year later in London. The building was newly built when Freud first moved in in 1891.


Only parts of the apartment are opened to the public: the waiting room for patients, the consultation room, his study and part of the private quarters.


Freud and his daughter Anna.

The waiting room for Freud’s patients also saw the gathering of luminaries that formed his circle of professional network and friends in Vienna. I imagine a room full of cigar smoke and conversations.

If I were to design the living room of my home, rather than a traditional setting of tv in front of sofa, I would have a loose arrangement of a table and assorted chairs. It’s something that I have wanted to do for years: nothing too plush but definitely comfortable. The table (it will probably be a combination of several components, still working out the design in my head) is the centrepiece where people gather around to work on ideas or simply bond over a meal. The room would then, rather than a place for vegetating in front of the tv, live up to its name of a ‘living’ room.

Took the street tram. Walked around a bit more.



Took the speedy train to the airport, thinking I was right on the dot for departure. But to find out that I have been denied boarding for being late. How this could happen when, 1) there was 30 mins before take off and 2) I already had a boarding pass, is bewildering. I am simply too tired to argue and will save the disputes for a later date.

My long detour to London will take even longer now since I will now have to spend the night in Vienna.

Ps. 48 hours later, I am now in London.