"I believe in manicures. I believe in overdressing. I believe in primping at leisure and wearing lipstick. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing; kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day, and I believe in miracles."- Audrey Hepburn

Aug 31, 2011

The Old Biscuit Mill

“You’re coming. We talked about this.” – Susan said to the super-confused me.
“Where are we going again?” – I asked.
“Your heaven.” 

Susan did not over-exaggerate. Despite how stress I was about my history paper and all my plans about spending my Saturday and Sunday in the library, I would not trade that Saturday trip for anything else.
Early sunshine Saturday morning, we caught a taxibus to the OBM – Old Biscuit Mill. The weather was sunny and bright. It would have been a perfect day without the chilly wind. Old Biscuit Mill is an old little village in the middle of the modern Cape Town. It used to be a … biscuit mill, obviously, and stills maintained most of the architecture it had then: Victorian warehouses and courtyard. It houses some of the coolest antique shops and boutiques in town with local designer goodies. Most importantly, however, is the fact that it also houses the most amazing market in town – The Neighbourgood Market. Besides the fact that this market has won several awards for its charm (nothing special at all), it consists of many many many specialty traders all over the place, ranging from local farmers, organic merchants, bakers, grocers, butchers, chefs, and … I ran out of vocabulary.  Hence, the amazing food.  

 As far as I have heard, there have always been some types of food and wine festival that take places here. To name a few: I <3 Coffee, Spring Fling, We <3 Real Beer, Wine and Chocolate, etc. (Check out more [professional] pictures of the OBM here)

Enough with the information, let’s get to the real stuff. I liked the place immediately, the moment I saw those adorable straw-sacks, arranged as chairs around little white wooden tables. The atmosphere was extremely brunch-ish. You know, those weekend mornings when you wake up, and have no concerns in mind but what type of toppings you should put on your waffles that would go perfectly with your latte. It’s one of those “you gotta wake-up slow” mornings in Jack Johnson’s “Banana Pancakes”. I forgot about all the time-slots I have carefully planned on my calendar, all at once, and just wanted to stay here all day, enjoying the weather and the atmosphere, even if I have to be hungry. 
Indeed, I was hungry. Susan has told me before hand to save my appetite for the best stuff. Once stepped inside the Victorian-style warehouse and I was exactly where Susan told me I would be, my heaven. Surrounded me luscious smell and delightful sight of all types of food. Orgasms in all senses, I’m telling you.
Susan, Carimah and I took a walk around all the stands and enjoyed ourselves tasting samples (amen for samples). Warm bread, macaroons, red-velvet cakes, tomato paste, cream cheese, honey, apple spice jam, and the list goes on. After an hour or so of exploring, we decided it was time to get us some real food, on courtesy of the hung-over Spencer too. We moved to the section of the market where they serve all different types of food that you could think of:  bagels, crepes, waffles, sushi, seafood, omelets, Italian pizza, Thai curry, Greek dishes, etc. We kept walking around, unable to make a decision of what we wanted. 

After fighting my desires and walking away from the crepes and pancakes stands, I settled in a long line (or queue, as they called it here), patiently waiting for my poached egg served with smoked salmon and hash brown, topped with home-made creamy mayonnaise sauce. Spencer got herself a sandwich bagel, with homemade ham and tomato basil. We were waited in line when a European guy, in his 20s, behind us started making conversation. It turned out that he was currently going to culinary school, just got an interview at a nearby restaurant, and stopped by for a quick lunch. It was interesting to hear his stories from Europe, travelled to all difference places and decided to settle in South Africa. Apparently, I had picked the place with the best and most diverse food in the world, according to him at least. Ambitious people are so inspiring. 

After finishing the most satisfying brunch ever, Carimah and I went on to our next mission: the dessert. We settled with macaroons, red velvet cake, chocolate cupcake, and each of us a yogurt parfait. The guy who sold the yogurt and smoothie was the most outgoing person. It was incredibly fun talking to him, and he let us try all the smoothie flavours too. We indulged ourselves in the sweetness of life, accompanied by a live band playing the best type of music – Frank Sinatra <3 Nothing can be better than enjoying a cupcake, a cup of coffee and listen to Frank Sinatra on saxophone? I felt like I had no worries in the world. Especially when I just paid about $15 for no worries in the world that definitely emptied my brain and filled my stomach. Although I did have someone in mind I wanted to share this experience with. He'd have loved it, and made it feel all the way better for me.

Without doubts, we left OBM, with happy stomachs and sugar-high brains. I also brought home with me raw dark chocolate for my chocolate pudding, another mission that I should accomplish soon. 

After spending the entire afternoon in the library and being productive, Spencer and I decided to hit Coco WahWah, a café down the street from where we lived, with an attempt to keep on fighting with the brutal history paper. It seemed like in order to win the fight, we needed all the energy in the world. Buried my head in books while typing away ideas on the computer indulged myself in a cup of tasty tomato and basil with crispy brown bread, and a cup of espresso. People who looked at us through the glass window must have thought we were crazy, spending our Saturday’s night away in homework. We awarded ourselves with a supersize, fresh and warm chocolate cookie and a three hour long Audrey Hepburn movie. 

That’s pretty much the highlight of my weekend. I spent all Sunday on campus, pulling my hair and hitting my head on the table, painfully making my way through the history paper. It was such a frustrating assignment that all four of us, Sarah, Monica, Spencer and I, went crazy. Thanks God for Wesley who decided to stop by that evening and baked chocolate muffins, or I would have thrown myself out the window. Ok, that was a little bit dramatic, but the muffins did help. 

After turning that stupid paper in, I’m now all free, having nothing to do but to chill and count down the days until I get to go on the exciting trip to the big 5 safaris in Africa. Given that the weather has been moderately nice, I checked out several novels from the library, and just spend my afternoons reading away. 

I should catch up on my blog though. There is a long list of ideas for entries that I have had in mind for a while. . 


[I'm having much problems naming this entry since apparently last weekend I had was also filled with desserts too. Me and desserts =.=]

Aug 30, 2011

A film of GalaDarling's wedding . My favorite blogger is now married ((in her Betsy Johnson's heels, of course) <3

Aug 25, 2011

Things I love Thursday

[Inspired by GalaDarling, she's the bomb]

Wake up to emails that make me smile. 
Gorgeous weather with lots of sun and a light breezes.
Guys with low-cut V-neck body shirt and a very very very attractive body. 
Glitter nail polish. 
Cereal and toast for breakfast, in bed, at 6am. 
Successfully pick up new accessories style.
Lick a stamp before mailing a letter. 
Patients who are extremely happy on finding out what's wrong with the body.
Friends with care who offer to drive me to places.
Finally able to steal that advertising poster I've had my eyes on for weeks.
Freshly baked cookies.
Random yet legit music performance in the middle of the quad.
Vegetarian food blog that is full of dessert.
Writing tips when I have tons of writing to do. 
Random interesting facts in Psych lectures.
Delicious Mexican food brought home by my friends because I'm busy studying and can't go out. 
Run into friends when I thought I had to take the bus from/to school by myself.
Learn new things about NYC and pretend like I live there.
Aladdin and popsicles.
Useful make-up tips.
An awesome entry from a friend's blog that speaks my mind.
Being really productive and realize it's not that difficult to stop blogging and get back to work ;)


Aug 24, 2011


Once I have survived the 45 minutes of the Immunology test and successfully pulled off a 2500-word research paper on an extremely unfamiliar topic  - Economics and Politics behind SA Health Care system , I called my weekend on order. Despite the fact that I have to somehow finish another three research papers within the next 10 days, my brain went on strike.  My excuse? I'm a Bio and Psych major. My brain has a limited capacity in the written language production region. 

With that said, Thursday night, we decided to be supportive and came to the Rugby game that Wes, David, Greg, Wilson and Eddie participated in. These guys were hilarious they made my night. Despite the freezing weather, I thought it was quite worth it to get to see the view of the campus at night, and to learn the ultimate rule of Rugby - you can pass the ball back but you can only kick it forward (actually, I'm not even sure if this is right). However, rugby does make US football players seem like losers, since they do all the tackles with no gears. We came to the Alma house (the other house that some of us stay at)and came up with a list of places we want to check out and things we need to do in Cape Town and Africa, accompanied by cheesecake made by Susan.  I kept having this image of the Mozambique beaches in my head and couldn't get rid of them. I want to go there so badly aka need to make this happen.

Mozambique Island - isn't this heaven on earth?
Source: google
Friday was such a miserable and dreadful day with pouring rain and freezing cold wind.  It was one of those days that I had to debate that I do need to go to that only one class at noon, drag myself out of bed, made my way to Upper Campus and manage to focus on learning how plants fight off bacteria. It was one of those days that I did not want to go on any stupid 3 hour field trip and just wanted to go home, curled up into a ball with my blankets and slept away. Anyway, I did fulfill the duty of a student, as always (?). The field trip ended up being quite an interesting experience. It was eye-opening and I learned a lot, but that is a story for another day. Let's focus on the entertaining aspect of the weekend.

I tried all the flavors. Yes, that's 4 pieces of cake, I know.
Wes woke me up from my power nap to pick me up for an event at Kolbe church called "KKK" - Coffee, Cake and Culture (yes, KKK sounds cooler than CCC). I kind of had too high an expectation for the performance and was mildly disappointed. I blamed it on the fact that U of R has so many talents in dancing and music that it takes a lot for me to be impressed now. It also might have been because I was only 1/4 of my attention, the other half was used to hold a decent conversation with Freddie, a random guy who was sitting next to me, and to fight off Wes from physically abuse me (by that I meant tickling). The best aspect of the night was the cake, obviously, and the alcoholic coffee. What can be better on a cold day than getting a chance to stuff my face with assorted muffins, chocolate cakes, assorted cheesecakes, lemon tarts, etc. Moreover, during the 30 minutes waiting in line for that little bit of heaven, I have made a few more friends and had quite an interesting conversation with them. The mission to convince Wes to come to the gay-lesbian film festival with me - failed. The mission to get Wes to steal more muffins and cheesecake - success. Freddie was amazed by how little energy I had during the performance and how much energy I got the moment I saw desserts and Bailey Irish coffee, and also my capacity to digest that huge amount of desserts. Who cares? I was happy. That's all it matters. I ended my Friday in a dessert coma and a movie, which I fell asleep to within half an hour.

Early sunshine Saturday morning, we gathered at the Alma house to set out for our Robben Island trip. The weather was gorgeous. The sun was shining, and there was a light breeze that kept the heat from being overwhelming. The sky was a deepest shade of blue, with not even a single trace of clouds, perfect weather for photography. After a short twenty minute boat ride, we arrived on the island. I have to say I miss the feeling of being on the ocean, riding over the waves and having that jumping and dipping feeling in my stomach. Many of my friends, on the other hand, didn't seem to agree that it was such a pleasant feeling. We did a tour around the prison where Nelson Mandela and many other political prisoners were held during … ugh … I forgot already. I'm not the best person to recite historical and political events. The prison itself, however, was interesting to visit. It has a beautiful architecture and a structure that gives off a feeling of immense stability and protection (well, make sense if it's a prison). The stone walls and how they incorporated little gardens and stone pathways at various places within the place somehow gave me a feeling that I'm in Greece. The weather was so gorgeous the entire time we were there that I thought to myself, if I was a prisoner, looking at this blue sky over a high stone wall, wondering about the days of freedom, would just kill me inside.

This reminds me of Little House in the Prairie
After the prison tour, we did a tour around island, from other historical locations to modern areas where people live nowadays. There were vacation houses so cute facing such amazing views that made me think: "It must be hell of a life living on such a beautiful island like this. That if you're not living in jail". Blue sky, blue ocean, white sand, green grass, yellow daisies, white sea gulls, what else could you ask for? We were driving through a small path through the woods when the tour guide told us to expect penguins in the bushes.  "What!?!" - I said a little bit too loud only at the moment when a penguin and a turtle popped out of nowhere from A BUSH and waddling across the street. Yeah, way to make a fool out of myself.

We returned to the harbor, stopped by the gift shop to look at souvenirs. I was tempted to take random things home with me as always, including a R13,000 (almost $2000) worth quilt of Africa. It was an exquisite piece of art, though. The quilt includes every unique aspects of Africa, made out of not only cloth but also decorated with various things like beads, bronze accessories, wooden masks, etc. It was such a precious item I want to be friend with whomever buy it, just so that I can look at it again.  The boat ride back was pretty interesting, since Monica and I were reminiscing various things about U of R and shared our stories there. I'm so glad to have Monica with me, we clicked so well and since we are both from U of R, we shared many things in common too, friends included obviously. 

Upon arrival at the Waterfront, Monica and I decided to grab lunch at the harbor. It was such a beautiful day, it would be a waste not to enjoy a leisure meal outside by the water. Italian food was calling our names so we picked a cute bistro, next to a group of local street performers - free music performance during lunch =  extra bonus. I had a delicious tomato and mozzarella panini, and an iced espresso with coffee liqueur drink that reminded me of Starbucks a little bit too much. Megan, Qamar, Ben and Toni also decided to join us for lunch. I love the fact that, except for Qamar, the rest of us are all from U of R. And you realize how small the world actually is. 

I finished off the afternoon with a large serving of Jamaica Coffee Gelato and a trip around the shopping mall. All these local stores and boutiques have such interesting decorations, including SA-flag-soap and leather-and-fur-Africa-shaped earrings that I tell you know, I'll be bringing them home. 

I just want to eat them all =.=
Wesley's fashion show seemed to go on quite well that afternoon too. Opening the show, he admitted to be "nervous at first but gotta show them the African swag that I invented". Lol! This guy insisted on not letting me go home until I pick up the "African swag" from him. We shall see about that. One of the guys from the show got picked to sign a modeling contract. Another thing I realized about UCT, fashion does exist on the street, in the sky, and everywhere else. There are signs looking for models and also of beauty contests all around campus. Even some of the local designers are our ages. It is such an amazing feeling to think that everytime I walk by Arts Block, I may be running into someone famous.

Nothing can cheer you up better than freshly baked cookies

After giving us  a little preview of the gorgeous weather, Cape Town went back to its rainy and gloomy day. I spent most of Sunday indoor, baking cookies to get over the depressing feeling while trying to focus my attention on Feature-Integration Theory of Attention - the topic of research for my Psych course. Although, I am a little bit sad that Monica and I had to miss our amazing gay film "Weekend" this weekend, it's for a better reason.  After three days of working excessively hard, I have finished the paper 3 days ahead of the due date and have even got a chance to discuss with my [super cool] TA about it.

Coffee and muffin is a must

I am really proud of myself for successfully being productive these past few days. The lack of internet may account for this, and also the lack of distracting elements. As much as I miss the distracting elements, I also hope that I can keep this productive schedule for a while. It gives me time to relax and socializing, without having to stress out about work before and after.

I do miss the feeling of being busy and stress though, as weird as it may sound.

This thing is getting longer and longer every time. If only writing papers is as easy as writing blog entries. But again, I might have just written a terribly boring blog entry.

Oh well, there is no memories that is not worth recording. To be able to relive the memories is not something you can always do, without the help of these records.

Aug 19, 2011

Cuisine, Culture and the Chronicle of Cape Town

Last week Tuesday, Aug 9th, is designated as Women's Day in South Africa. Obviously, along with a Public Holiday was a day off school, joy to the students.

Ironically, true to the essence of being a female on Women's Day, I intended to spend the entire day in bed, coping with the immense pain that tortured my poor body. Already had to give up on hiking up Lion's Head and going on a cycling wine tour, I was not exactly in the best mood. However, my roommate gave me an irresistible incentive to get out of my room: delicious Mexican food for lunch and a schedule of checking out museums downtown.  Unable to resist a gorgeous warm and sunny day and an exciting adventure, I successfully dragged myself out of bed before noon.

(the orange vehicle is what I'm talking about)
Source: capetowndailyphoto 
After half an hour waiting for the shuttle that never came (since none of us has quite grasped how the shuttle here worked yet), the five of us climbed in a minibus to head downtown. "Minibus" is a taxi/bus and is a quite popular mean of transportation in South Africa. They are minivans that fit around 12 - 20 people, depends how tight they can squeeze us in and they run on different routes like buses. The advantage of taking a minibus is that they usually cost only about 5-7R ($1). The disadvantage is that they are uncomfortable, stop at various places along the way to pick up and squeeze more people in, and that they are not safe if you travel by yourself or at night. One thing that I have heard from various people since I've been here is that "Try not to be the first one to get in, the last one to get out of, and NEVER be the only one who gets on a minibus." Besides those minor things, they are pretty fun and convenient to use. If you are unlucky enough to find yourself on the N2 highway during rush-hour you’re sure to experience the taxi operators’ phenomenal driving ability – often you just have to sit back and laugh at these drivers’ arrogant resourcefulness when navigating stopped or grid-locked traffic.  

Long Street is strangely quiet during the day, especially on a holiday. I was planning on checking out the boutiques and vintage stores along the street but most of them are close. It is so peaceful and so different from the busy and chaotic atmosphere at night, when all the restaurants, bars and clubs are open. Luke, one of the guys in our group, started his day with an interesting experience. He was followed by this homeless man who would walk uncomfortably close to him, and would not leave regardless of how many times Luke told him he had no changes. After five blocks, the guy was still persistent and got to the point of threatening Luke that he "wouldn't want to take out his knife". Only when we took out our phones and about to call security did he leave us alone. Even for me, who is pretty used to homeless people asking for money in Vietnam, it was quite a scary experience. I thought to myself, at least the homeless people at home are much more friendly.

Mexican Kitchen, the restaurant that we picked for lunch, gave off an authentic feeling. Inside, the restaurant was decorated with various typical Mexican theme, and outside are colorful picnic tables. We decided to sit outside to enjoy the warm sun, especially when we just suffered through a few days of miserable rain earlier in the week. The menu consists of the typical Mexican food: nachos, taco, burritos, fajita, quesadillas, enchiladas, and such with a rather reasonable price for Long Street, around 55R ($8) for a main entrée. We got nacho and cheese for group appetizer and I got myself a serving of Veggie Enchiladas. It was the best Mexican food I have had in a while. Indeed, it was so delicious that Qamar, another guy in our group, actually went back the next day to get more. However, it reminded me of Chipotle and all the good times I had with my friends in Rochester - nostalgic moment.

After filling up our stomachs, we headed down the street to the South African Museum, hoping that we would be able to fill up our heads with some knowledge about history and culture of South Africa. We encountered our 2nd interesting experience with the homeless people. The homeless woman asked Qamar: "Have you ever been hungry to the point that you want to kill someone? Because I'm at that point right now". I actually feel a tint of guilt. At the age of 21, I get a chance to travel to various places around the world, getting the best education, enjoying delicious food, living large and having a fabulous time. And earlier that day, I was complaining about how "broke" I am, only because I am too lazy to cook and want to eat out all the time. Sometimes I think I am so spoiled and I definitely take for granted all the luxury and comfort that I receive everyday.

Anyways, back to the museum. We got in for free since it was Women's Day, scored! The museum started with the section about African Rock Art - my most favorite part of the museum I dare say. The paintings and carving on the rocks dated back to thousands and millions years ago. I feel like everything that I have learned in Evolutionary Biology about the origin of human beings just came alive in front of me. Plus, they are pretty darn good at drawing, with minimal tools. We went to the area that talked about ancient life, with exhibition of the houses, clothing and tools that they used. I was fascinated with all the leather/skin and fur bags, clothing and accessories. They are so expensive nowadays if you want to own something as beautiful and as natural as these. The bead works and the bronze accessories are also amazing. After all, thousand years after, we still get our inspiration from our ancestors. 

The rest of the museum is the "Water World", "Shark World" and "Dinosaur World". They are fascinating and I love looking at the fishes but nothing impressive, really. When I think about Africa, I always think about the safaris and lions, giraffes, rhinos and such. It has never dawned on me that penguins, dolphins, sharks and whales are such a big thing here. I only associate those things with Hawaii, or Alaska. See, you learn new things everyday. One thing I definitely want to come back here for, though, is the planetarium. They hold various exhibition on stars and various talks of different related topics, ranging from Cosmotics to 2012 - end of the world rumor. I make a mental note to myself to come back for the one where they give us constellation maps and teach us how to pick out various constellation. Good skills for the guys to impress their girls ;)

We ended the day with some delicious vanilla and caramel ice cream for McDonalds and a hazelnut iced coffee for me. I miss Starbucks so much and wish I could find a replacement for it. 

I actually really like McDonald's hazelnut ice coffee.
It tastes good, and it's cheap too.
It was not exactly the most exciting thing that I have done since I got here. However, to get such a relaxing day enjoying the warmth of the sun, having a great time with friends over good food and learning about the history and culture of this country, I was extremely satisfied and happy. It is exactly my type of day - living the life of a tourist. I have to thanks Galadarling  (check it out ladies - The Ultimate Guide to Making Your Period Sucks Less) for her amazing article and my patient roommate that encouraged me to get out of the house and living the experience. 

- Qamar and Megan -
The two ultimate people who are determined to drag me out of bed and go everywhere
 After all, T.I.A - This is Africa - There's no time to for me waste on being boring and miserable.


Aug 14, 2011

When the weather is cold outside, and nothing could cheer me up, these girls can.

Aug 11, 2011

Life as a UCT student

As I’m reaching the end of my 3rd week of school at the University of Cape Town (UCT), it suddenly dawned on me that, amidst all the excitement and new experiences that I am living, I totally forgot to give an update on school and classes. Morever, now that I have settled down and gotten a little bit more used to the surroundings, the daily life of a 3rd year college student has been established and I think it deserves a substantial part in my blog life.

Source: UCT website
For probably the 50 millionth time, I have to say that UCT campus is absolutely breath-taking. The campus is divided into three parts: Lower, Middle and Upper Campus. Lower Campus resides right on Main Road, a block away from my apartment building, and mostly consists of dormitories and other residential halls. I’ve made a mental note to myself to check out the dorms, once I’ve made friends with someone who actually stays there (or I’m afraid will just have to crash random freshman parties). Within a five minute up-hill walk, along the route that I usually take called “Lovers’ Walk”, is the Middle Campus. It mostly consists of [many] administration buildings and is the campus for the School of Law, which explains why I am rarely here. Actually, I have been here quite often at the beginning of the school year since the IAPO (International Student Office, I read it as “iApple”, lol) locates in the upper part of Middle Campus. The least boring part about the Middle Campus is probably the quad area, where students usually hang out during free time. There are tremendous amount of quite steep steps that lead to the quad, and the moment you pop your head up from the steps, you will encounter various bronze figures in different poses, looking like they are playing on a playground. The significant of these figures I have not known yet which means I probably should figure out soon.

Source: UCT website
Passing through a short but beautiful graffiti-decorated tunnel from the Middle Campus, I found myself facing a breath-taking view (well, the short of breath effect may mainly due to all the climbing). In front of me are layers and layers of colours running parallel to the horizon: the green rugby and soccer fields and the winding roads that lead to the centre of the campus, with various clay-walled, green-vined buildings along the road. In the middle are the steps leading up to Jameson Hall, looking like Zeus’ mansion on top of the grand Olympus. All of the undergrad buildings are on Upper Campus, so without said, this is where everything happens.

Source: Flickr
UCT is an extremely diverse campus: Africans from South Africa, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Ghana, Egypt, Madagascar, you-name-it country; Europeans from Paris, London, Norway, etc; Americans and, once in a while, Asians. The statistic I got is that UCT has an international student population represented by 200 different nations all over the world! Not to mention the fact that they have amazing styles. Leather jackets and skinny jeans are brought out on a cool day. Fedora hats, floral printed skirts, khaki shorts and blazers are sported on a sunny day. And when the weather hits 30 degree and the campus is shrouded with masses of grey clouds, here come the fur jackets and fur boots. I stop keeping counts of how many times I walk into a pole or telephone booth while admiring someone’s outfit. 

One thing I love about UCT is the public transport system, to all different parts of campus and also to various places in town. However, beware, the “Jammie”, as they called it, is rather an uncomfortable ride in the mornings, especially those hung-over ones. It will make your stomach churn and your head spin as it speed-turns all the sharp corners of the mountain road =.= There are other campuses that locate at different parts of Cape Town including the Art and Music Campus, the Medical School and something else. The Art and Music School, where I have to make regular trip to get books for my Art History class, locates just a block away from the most popular street in town, Long Street. What can be better than taking a free bus to go shopping, go out for dinners and even to hit the bars and clubs? 

Source: you gotta love gmail calendar :)
As far as classes are going, compared to at U of R, my schedule here is a little bit of heaven. My day starts at 10am Mon-Wed and at noon for the last two days of the week, and ends at 2pm. The materials that I am required to read are also significantly less that that at UR, consider these are all 3rd year level courses. For a science major student, however, this semester seems extremely essay-heavy for me. Three out of my courses: Photography in Africa, Cognitive Science and Healthy and Community Development all has more than 50% of the grade based on research papers and written reports. Let’s hope I will survive. One thing that makes me appreciate U of R significantly is the dining halls and the computer system. No one is really on campus before 8am or after 5pm. Thus, besides the food court, there are only a few food stands around campus for sandwiches, burgers and other fast food. I dearly miss the availability caffeine and sugar at UR, as well as the late operating hours. I appreciate Starbucks, Common Market, Pura Vida, and Hillsides more than ever. Also, except for school usage, we are only allowed 3GB of internet data use every month and logging on to the system is a pain! 

As the 3rd week of school is reaching the end, I have found myself more comfortable finding ways around campus. The number of times when I get to the wrong classroom and take the wrong buses decreases significantly. I am not as afraid to walk home by myself after 7pm, although later than that would still be scary. And I slowly start to cook various meals at home instead of going out for food (although this is purely due to financial reason and has nothing to do with the love for cooking).

As I start to settle down into a new lifestyle, I slowly realize things that I miss about my daily life in Rochester. Even without all the volunteer work, my schedule is still wide open and as much as I complained about it, I miss going to various meetings and club events. I was frustrated when Sigma and CSA events took over my life until at least 9pm every day, but reading about the planning of next year events makes me feel like I’m missing out on lots of things. I miss having bagels and coffees at Pura Vida in the mornings before 9am classes with Wai Ling and Trissha. I miss setting up lunch dates with various friends. I miss making Starbucks runs with my big and Lena. I miss random trips to get Chipotle, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese food with Lynna. I miss getting muffins and food made by Brian. I miss the all the nights spent in Gleason with coffee, bags and bags of chips and gummy worms with my psis. I hate going home, cooking and eating by myself. It's quite a lonely feeling.

The little things that have become such a routine and a comfortable part of my life, it feels so different without them. I guess there is a reason why they say “You don’t miss the place, you miss the people and the memories that you have with them.”

Hopefully I will be meeting new people and making memories here in the near future and that next semester, I will be sitting in ITS at 3am in the morning, procrastinating, and writing about how I miss my wonderful time in Cape Town. 
Here, take a look at my gorgeous campus, and be jealous!


Aug 8, 2011

Untitled 4.

Sometimes I wish I could go back to the teenage years when my time was spent watching sappy Korean movies and chick flicks, when I still believed that love was such a simple thing. It gives me this feeling of something warm, light, fluffy, sweet and innocent - like a cappuccino. 

"And in that short moment with my eyes closed, I will miss you."

Sometimes I gave myself the luxury to enjoy these unreasonably romantic, maybe a little bit childish and vain, lines. It's a good break for the soul, lol. 

But as Carrie Bradshaw has said: "There comes a point in every relationship when romance gives way to reality". Maybe that is the reason why the directors always let the main characters die before they get to that point in order to keep the romance and the fairy tale happily-ever-after ending.  

I don't think I should watch too many Korean movies too often, because yes, I may shed a drop of tear at the ending, but then after the moment past, I just become even more sarcastic and bitter than I've already been =.= 

I guess, once in a while, it doesn't hurt to have a cup of cappuccino for the night, instead of a cosmopolitan.


Aug 6, 2011

Love Letters of Great Men

Nothing could make your day more than receiving a package, from somewhere that is thousand of miles away, especially in this time and day. I feel like my entire generation has grown to take for granted how lucky they are to be equipped with all types of technology. My sister can talk for her boyfriend three hours a day, three times a day, everyday a week. It doesn't even seem like they are separated by half the world at all. My friend from the US and I can stay on Skype for hours, watching movies together using the "share screen" thing.

Times like these, to get a single card in the mail is enough to make me jump for joy. Imagine how it was for me to get an entire package sent to South Africa, not to mention the package contains a little bit of heaven - the entire collection of all the books written by Candace Bushnell: the original "Sex and the City", the first prequel "Carrie's Diaries" and the latest prequel "Summer in the City" along with a handmade collage. I felt like I was high on cocaine (not that I've ever tried it, but should be somehow similar).

I know I have always been a little bit more than obsessed with Sex and the City and almost no month goes by without me re-watch at least one episode of the show, or one of the movies. However, this week feels like my Sex and the City jackpot week. My friends wanted to stop by the grocery store at the mall to get some snacks before we hit the bowling alley and the casino. Out of the blue, I decided to check out the bookstore, and I saw it. In front of me, on the Winter Sale section, 50% off, was the book that I had been searching for ages, the one that Amazon kept flashing the sign "out of stock" on my screen - "Love Letters of Great Men". Ever since I saw the scene the book on Carrie's hand, in the summer of 2008, I knew I wanted that book. Unfortunately, the book never existed, until another thousands of fans like me went searching for it. A year after the movie came out, they published the collection, with the footnote "inspired by the movie Sex and the City". Why they haven't thought of this later, I have no idea.

My head was in the cloud and my feet was NOT on the ground that afternoon. I bailed out early on the casino night, anticipating that it would turn out to be a long night of drinking and clubbing on Long Street, to head home and indulge myself in the love of the greatest men on Earth.

True, these letters were written in an incredibly old-fashioned way and were not the easiest thing to digest. I don’t know about the ladies back then, but for me, these had to be read in a slowly, word-by-word way so that my mind can break down all the meanings, and after that, I can have enough time to let every words sink in my heart. I decided that since the ladies could only receive one letter every few months, I shouldn't go for more than one or two per day. I couldn't help but cheat and turn to the letter read by Carrie in the movie - written by Beethoven to his "Immortal Beloved".

"Ever thine, ever mine, ever ours."

From the movie (apparently they cut out some parts of the real letter)
Every time I read this line, I feel like there is this beautiful sentiment hanging in the air, and actually give me this feeling of everlasting. There is no "I love you forever", no "I will be with you until my last breath", nothing of that sort. Yet the love is there, and the timelessness is there.

Mr. Big has told Carrie: "These guys had to write. They were separated from their loves by wars and hundreds of miles. I'm right here."

True. I forgot. We don't need those anymore. Even with the distance, we've got Gmail, AIM, Facebook, AT&T, and Skype. Don't get me wrong, there's no one who could appreciate technology more than I do. I mean, I'm typing on a laptop and about to post this on my blog for god's sake. However, to the point that even writers, novelists, lyricists nowadays don't care about how they use the language anymore? Shakespeare plays along with many classic novels are hated to the core because no one could understand what they try to say. Because people actually have to think about the language. Because there are actually meanings behind every sentence, every word, or every punctuation. 

However, sometimes I just wish I could go back to the time when a letter means so much. I wish I could live in the moment when words are not overused and each and every single of them has so much meaning they could shake you to the core.

It is because the people could only send a few thousand words over the course of several months, words had so much more weight and meaning. And here you thought it was so romantic when people said "I love you more than words can say". It is only because they use it too freely, they run out of it.

Have we officially entered a global word crisis, and don't even realize how serious it is, or how unfortunate we are?

Personally, I feel lucky to have these great loves right next to me, on my bookshelf, to remind me to not take words for granted.


Aug 5, 2011

Aug 4, 2011


Currently obsessed with African and tribal-inspired fabric. Loving the texture, the colors, the patterns. My head is in the cloud cuz these designs are so dreamy.

Senegalese Fashion Designer Colle Sow Ardo

Alice in Wonderland Haute Couture 
Alice in Wonderland Haute Couture - Dior

Alice in Wonderland Haute Couture - Dior

Lanvin Spring 2011 Ready to Wear

Avnah Davis-Long, Avnah Couture

Aug 2, 2011

Soaking up the culture - Part II

This weekend, we are taken to the township for a homestay and, as they put it, to live the “real experience” of being one of the people. We had no idea what to expect and were all excited, with a little bit of anxiety mixed in.

On arrival, we were, by pairs, introduced to our “mamas”, who were generous enough to put up with us for the night. Maddie and I arrived at our “one-night” home, a simple one-level house, typical feature of an African township “urban” architecture. The place was quite simple but extremely cozy and definitely had features of a quite well-off family with a spacious living room and dining room, one kitchen, two bathrooms and three bedrooms. Rooms were painted with different colors, the recognizable color palette of this country: orange, pink, green, blue and purple. I can’t say enough how much I love the colorful aspect of everything. It must be one of the reasons why they call this the “Rainbow Nation”. The thing that captured my heart completely was the smell of homemade bread that filled up the hallways and every corner of the house. Brown, crispy, and freshly baked homemade bread, nom nom nom. I wish I had asked for the recipe, but I felt like this was such a simple and common thing for them they would raise eyebrows at me for asking how to make break. Probably would be the same reaction you would get for asking an Asian how to cook rice. Regardless, I think the secret is the sugar coating that gives the break its color, crispiness as well as the sweet taste. My goal before I leave South Africa: learn how to make bread. 

After being served a cup of hot tea, Maddie and I were taken around to “visit the neighbors”. The sun was setting, the street lights were already lit up and the delicious and mouth-watering smell of dinner filled the streets. Children playing, teenagers having conversations and even adults rushing home all stopped to wave and greet us. We were taken from house to house, mostly less comfortable and more run-down than the house we were staying at. I thought to myself: “We are taken to experience the culture, but pretty darn sure they picked the best houses for us to stay in and avoided the more ‘troublesome’ ones”. Maddie and I exchanged looks when we walked into this gorgeous 2-door garage house, in which the living room was furnished with leather couches, flat screen TV and fur carpet. Definitely opposite to the house next door where eight people shared the same common area. Oh, life of the riches.

After a tour around town, we went back to our home and got dinner ready. Both our mama and her daughter worked in cooking related fields so our dinner was, without said, beyond delicious. I was excited to find the first local person who shared my love for sushi. We went on about sushi and Asian food forever. I actually realized that many of the people I have encountered here has had been to some kind of Asian countries, for some reason.

The night went by pretty uneventful with us just exchange small talks and watched some TVs. Maddie and I was in bed by 9:30pm, lol. It was so cold and apparently they don’t use heaters in their house, so we were under three layers of blanket that were as thick as the mattress itself. I was trying to read but that didn’t last for long because my hands were freezing. As a result, we didn’t really sleep that well that night, and apparently same with the others. Early sunshine Sunday morning, we all gathered in the main house, looking tired while sharing stories about our nights.

10a.m., we were taken to church, and as far as I know, it was the first experience that I did not particularly enjoy, even with the cultural difference in mind. Church was mainly divided into two parts: first part involved singing and dancing, and second part involved “inspirational speech”. They actually had a stage, with a basist, guitarist, drummer and a singer, like a rock concert. For the first hour, all we did was singing and literally dancing. It was fun and interesting at first, when we were still enjoying the fact that we didn’t have to sit through all the ceremonies and such. However, it got long and I missed the traditional mass. Our service that day, interestingly, was on “Dating and Relationships”. To be honest, I zoned out on most of it. The few pieces and fragments that I caught were: “You can only date with the intention of looking for a lifetime partner. You can’t date just to have fun” (huh?) and “Sex makes people stupid” (Mean Girls?). Not to be mean or anything, but I was tempted to give them all 6 seasons of Sex and the City as a gift, just to see how their reactions would be like. I never have problems with people expressing their faith and beliefs before, and I always try to avoid discussion on religions and even relationship-related stuff, since my perception of relationships is somewhat twisted. It was the first time it hit me that beliefs can be really different and people can have really strong opinions on things that you never would have thought still existed.

Anyways, moving away from the serious topics, after church, we walked to our supposedly “hot spot” for lunch, M’zoli. We have heard all about it from everyone and it seemed like a popular spot, so we were all excited. Besides, we were starving. We walked across the railroad, which is the “border” that separates a colored township and a black township. It was amazing that the architecture ultimately changed, reflecting a different culture.

M’zoli turned out to live up to its reputation. It is the hot spot but not only for lunch. With amazing food served by the restaurant, which is famous for its butchery and barbeque, and with the alcohol sold for cheap and everywhere along the street, this is no doubt THE place to be. Despite the fact that it was 1p.m. on a Sunday afternoon, people were enjoying their barbeques (which is served in a huge bucket, and not even lying, that kind of irked me a little bit, as a vegetarian), drinking beers, taking shots, smoking hookah or even drugs, dancing. It was just like a club in daylight. We lost our table for being late, so we chilled outside, bathing in the sunshine, enjoying our cool drinks and having a time of our life. I got an amazing cool bag for less than $10, and a delicious vegetarian meal. There were people everywhere, tourists, locals, Europeans, Americans, etc. There were expensive cars, girls and guys in stylish clothes, and the smell of smokes and food. It was an extremely chaotic atmosphere, but I loved it. I felt like I was in a middle of the 60’s hippy movement or something. I like it when things around me are lively and exciting.

Our weekend ended with me and my roommate moving to our new apartment. I now have a room double the size of my dorm room in Rochester, a queen size bed, a balcony and UNBELIEVABLE closet space. The area that we live it is also adorable. However, I miss the house we stayed at. I miss our afternoon time that filled with stories and laughter, and the smell of dinner that Wes and Megan cooked (I don’t cook obviously, so I watched them). I miss sitting around in the living room watching TV, being on our computers and listening to music, and many more. But I’m sure I will readjust pretty quickly. Plus, school has started and I’m already piled with readings and quizzes. My volunteer trips to the clinics also start from Monday to Wednesday from 6pm to 11pm so that will be enough to keep me busy. I’m excited about the Health and Community Development class, in which we get to visit the real problematic refugee and relocating area of the cities and come up with a project to help improve their condition. We will also get to learn about the health care systems as well as hospitals of various types. My professor hooked me up with an ambulance shadowing and also more shadowing work in any department at any hospitals, or with Red Cross if I want to. This is what I come here for and I can’t wait to live it.

Instead of spending time at the library this afternoon, I made an escape to a café. As I write now, I see the city lights beneath me, and hear songs of love strumming on the guitar beside me, accompanied by the signature African drumming/

I've fallen in love. And so quickly, I'm almost ashamed. 

I’ve picked up the habit of waking up in the morning, to open the curtain to the breathtaking pink sky, and a foggy blanket over the mountain tops. Up until now, afternoons are spent lounging in the kitchen, sharing stories and laughing with the locals and foreigners alike. To laugh, to sing, and fall in love.  

 An innocent kind of love. A “can I hold your hand?” kind of love. A love you can't comprehend until you've lived it. 

Sometimes I forgot I am a student going to school, but imagine myself as a tourist on a spontaneous get-away trip in paradise. True paradise is not beaches, snorkeling, and beautiful faces. True paradise is finding beauty in a place. Seeing prosperity and poverty, the indigenous and the tourist both dwelling as one. I can hardly put to words why I've fallen so hard. But I suppose that's how love leaves you.



P/S: pics of my place to be updated later, need to finish decorating first