How I Spent Six Hours In Paris

Monday, 27 August 2018

We were supposed to leave St Pancras International at 0752 on the 21st of July. As someone who hates being late, I made sure that I was at the train station as early as 0630. I was not in any rush because based on my previous travel to Paris, an hour is more than enough for check in. It will also leave you an ample time to buy coffee, which I exactly did while waiting for my cousins. 

So, I comfortably sat outside a cafe (people watching) when suddenly, the queue built up right in front of me. I realised it was Saturday. I started to panic. It was quarter to seven. I texted one of my cousins to find out where they were. They were still at their friend's house, 30 minutes away from St Pancras. Calculating their travel time on the tube plus finding their way to the departure area, I was convinced we won't make it on time. Then my phone rang. It was my cousin panicking on the other line. He instructed me to go to Gate 5. I had no clue where Gate 5 was, so I ran to the check-in area instead. There I saw him, waving his e-ticket, asking me to just go in. But he had my train ticket.

When I finally saw a side entrance where my cousin was, I rushed to get in, only to be blocked by an angry man. He led my cousin back to the queue and ordered him angrily not to go out anymore. Luckily, I already had my ticket by then. Already flustered, I no longer had the energy to deal with the angry man so I chose the calmer man at the kiosk instead. He perused my ticket, then finally allowed me to join my cousins in the queue.

Everyone seemed to be angry that morning because the lady at the security area was also shouting, " Please give way to the passengers for 0752". Then she said in a really loud voice, "raise your hand if you are on the 0752 train". To my surprise, there were still at least 30 people at the back of the queue. Phew. That was a relief.

We eventually left London 30 minutes later. I must admit, I have travelled to many places before and some were quite eventful journeys, but nothing was ever as stressful as this trip to Paris.

I only had six hours to spend in Paris so I wanted to make the most out of it, mainly because I was there to show my cousins around. It helped that my cousins were not really fussy and they all had laid-back personalities, so there was no pressure at all. We all had a good laugh all the way through. 

As we arrived in Paris later than we expected, we didn't have enough time for breakfast, so we grabbed some croissant and other pastries from a local bakery- the La Maison d'Isabelle. We found the bakery by chance, without realising that they were awarded "The Best Croissant 2018". If I had known beforehand I should have ordered the award-winning butter croissant instead. But still, their almond croissant is the best- golden, flaky and crispy, light and soft- that kind of melt-in-your-mouth thing.
47 Boulevard Saint Germain 75005, Paris

I munched my almond croissant happily all the way to Notre-Dame de Paris, which is about 7 minutes walk from the bakery. It was almost midday on a Saturday, so the queue to go inside the church was very long. The best idea was to take photos outside and then for my cousins to go back another day as they were spending three days in Paris anyway.

As they were all in for a (leisurely) walk, we made our way to the Louvre, more or less than 20 minutes walk from Notre-Dame. 

The last time I was in Paris in 2017, the fountains were switched off so I was happy to see them working again this time. Also, there was a golden sculpture inside the pyramid that wasn't there before. Apparently, it is a monumental sculpture as part of "Japonismes 2018: Souls in Resonance" to commemorate France's 160 years of diplomatic relations with Japan. The intricate sculpture is called "Throne" by Kohei Nawa, and will be in the pyramid for six months from July. 

After a good hour in Palais du Louvre, we took the metro to Trocadero. This is the place I normally bring family and friends to because for me, it has the best view of the Eiffel Tower. I have been to the other side before but because it is looking up at the tower, I didn't appreciate the view as much. 

Moving on from the Eiffel Tower, where my cousins witnessed a group of young men's modus operandi in stealing mobile phones, we made our way to Sacre Coeur. As we haven't had lunch and it was almost 330pm, we decided to take Uber for €17. 

This time, I was able to go inside Sacre Coeur again.

As my normal route from the church, we walked through the very touristy Artist's Square in Place du Tertre. 

We didn't have any place in mind for lunch so we chose a random restaurant in the square. Au Cadet de Gascogne probably wasn't the ideal French restaurant to eat at because of poor reviews, but we had a good dining experience there. I had the Linguine aux deux saumons (€19) and it was very tasty. I actually enjoyed it. One of my cousins had the Pave de saumon roti (€19.50) and it was good too. The staff was very friendly and the service was quick. I would still recommend to do a research on restaurants before you go to Paris, but this restaurant is a go-to if you are in the area and have no other restaurants in mind.
4 Place du Tertre 75018, Paris

After lunch, we still had enough time to explore a bit more of Paris so we walked down to Moulin Rouge. I love this walk as it is only about 10 mins on some quiet-er streets of Paris.  

Moulin Rouge was our last destination for the day before I headed back to London. 

Considering I only had 6 hours to take my cousins around Paris, we managed to see all the major sights without rushing.

Ah, no trip to Paris is ever the same. First of all, it was the first time I actually saw Manang Mener and Ading Michelle in more than 10 years. It is quite a long time but nothing has really changed. We essentially just picked up where we left off. They were as I have always remembered them- kind, simple and fun to be with. I just wish I was able to spend more time with them as there was so much to catch up on. Hopefully next time.

So, despite the early morning stress, it was a  good day in Paris once more. I almost didn't make it but I guess it was really meant to be. 


For Keith's 18th Birthday In Heaven

Friday, 24 August 2018

On the 17th of August, Keith would have been 18 and amazing. Unfortunately, he was not here to celebrate with us, nor for me to witness how he would have grown up to be a very fine young man. Whilst I used to cry on days like this, I now remember my wonderful child with a smile in my heart because I truly believe (finally) that he is in a much better place now. It took a life-changing situation for me to realise this. I never stopped questioning God why He took my child too soon, but as years went by, the reasons became more and more apparent to me. Keith was so pure and didn't deserve to witness any of the heartaches that we had to go through. I guess it is safe to say that I am more at peace with his passing now than I ever was because of this.

Although I was on holiday on Keith's birthday, I made sure not to break my birthday routine for him. So I went to a nearby church and lit up a candle. I played his favourite song "Lighters" on my way to the church. Needless to say, I was wearing his favourite colour blue. Unfortunately, I had to leave Meowmeow in London in fear of losing him.

When I went back to the hotel, I received a photo that truly pierced my heart. I think the photo is the most poignant photo that I have seen of my mother in a long time. Saying that, it felt good to finally see her doing her own thing, especially for Keith.

One of my biggest fears when Keith left has been the fact that people might eventually forget about him. Perhaps most people have by now, but the most important thing is that the people closest to him never forget.

As part of my routine, I also donated blood in memory of Keith. I do this twice a year now- on Keith's death anniversary and his birthday. 

Looking at Keith's friends' photos and videos on social media somehow gives me a glimpse of how he would have been as an 18 year-old young man. Perhaps, he would have remained shy and quiet but never embarrassed to show his mighty talents. But one thing is for sure, he would have remained that kind-hearted, polite and gentle young boy.

Ah, I miss this boy so much. But no matter how hard it is sometimes, I take comfort in knowing that he was indeed a wonderful child. This boy has done so many inspiring things at such a young age and therefore, will remain in our hearts forever.  He will be loved and remembered for the rest of our lives.

I will always love you, my dear Keith.


How I Celebrated My 42nd Birthday

Saturday, 4 August 2018

A few weeks ago, I turned 42. And whilst I say every year that I'd rather have a quiet birthday, it never happens. There is always the opportunity to try something new and explore, a birthday routine to continue and dreams to pursue. This year, I was blessed enough to spend my birthday week doing the things that I absolutely love and more.

1. Giving Back
- The weekend before my birthday, my very good friend Kristy, Essa and I joined Johnson&Johnson in solidarity to show that "We care with Pride" at the London Pride. It was my first time to join the annual celebration and I am so honoured to have been invited. It was my way of giving back by supporting the LGBT community.  It was such an empowering experience, I should write about it soon really.

2. The Little Things
- At past midnight on my birthday, J woke me up after I fell asleep on the couch watching Silicon Valley. He reminded me that it was my birthday, kissed me on the forehead and handed me his gift. His gift was something I didn't really expect. He said he got me that gift so that I could take better photos of my food. J may not be very expressive of his feelings, but he is one of the most thoughtful person I know (he doesn't even know how thoughtful he is). He then apologised for forgetting to buy me a cake and a candle to blow, which honestly didn't matter to me. What J didn't realise that night was that his endearing thoughtfulness was enough for me to have a happy birthday. 

3. Making A Dream Come True
- As J and I couldn't celebrate my birthday on the day due to his work commitments, I decided to do something for myself. I have always loved flower fields but somehow have not made an effort to visit one since my trip to Tuscany to see the sunflowers two years ago. So, I decided to visit a lavender field. I was planning to do this on my own, but I realised I didn't have to really do that. Hence, I invited two of my friends whom I haven't seen in ages and they happily joined me in making another dream come true.

4. Establishing A Birthday Routine
- And because I want to establish a birthday routine (which I started only last year), I went to a lunch date with myself the day after my birthday at the Taiwanese restaurant BAO in Soho. I've always wanted to try this restaurant but whenever I went in the past, there was always a long queue. So this time, I made sure that I went before the restaurant opened at 12. I was very happy I finally had my first bao in London.

5. Intimate Dinner With A Friend (or two) Who Truly Matter 
- That Friday, I had a post-birthday dinner with Kristy at a Chinese restaurant in Paddington called Pearl Liang. It goes without saying that I am very blessed to have this amazing lady as a constant in my life.

6. A Quiet Date With Someone Special
- Finally on Saturday, J and I celebrated my birthday. We went for coffee at the Cafe Royal in the afternoon so I could have my red velvet cake. Then in the evening, he took me to Social Eating House in Soho. 

7. Achieving Something No Matter How Small 
- I wrapped up my birthday week with another achievement by completing the Virgin 10k race

As I grow older, it is becoming more apparent that big birthday celebrations no longer work for me. I have learned through the years that the best way to celebrate a birthday is to spend your time, money and effort wisely. This means doing things for your self and spending time with the (few) people who genuinely want to be in your life.  


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