Belgium, Human Nature, Travels

Garden Centre Outing

This afternoon, D and I went to a garden centre with his parents. I only had potting soil and maybe some outdoor pots on my shopping list, but ended up with four pots in total. In addition to that, we also got two indoor plants, candies and a bag of Japanese rice cracker mix. 😛

Maybe it is just me… but visiting garden centres seem to be legitimate fun outings this part of the world.

Belgium, Events, Food & Drinks, Travels

Beer Festival 2021

Yesterday afternoon, D and I left for Ghent to attend a well-loved beer festival that was cancelled last year. The car was parked at a free park+ride zone and we took two short tram rides to reach our destination. Public transportation was painless, despite the compulsory mask wearing measures.

Beer festival was as normal as it gets in this Covid-19 era. D and I enjoyed six beers in total, enjoyed being amongst people, and the better weather in the beginning. It started raining when we were at our last glass of beer, but it was alright because we moved closer to a tent and I had my umbrella up.

Because of the worsening weather, we did not visit the city centre as I originally wanted to. We just took our two tram rides back to the parking. City trip will be for next time…

On our way back to West Flanders, D had to drive through a heavy rain storm! Scary, but we got home safely.

Food & Drinks, Travels

Garden Gathering

Yesterday, D and I went to friends who lived 45 minutes drive away, to join them for a barbecue. The host family had only invited two families, which was not the usual thing they do. Times has changed since 2020, I am guessing that they were keeping the social bubbles small and manageable.

Children has grown. The friends are well. Most of us are vaccinated. All of us moving on with our lives and doing our best in enjoying what life has to offer. And that is a good thing.

Flashbacks, Travels

Flashback Journeys

Now that D and I are fully vaccinated, we may travel to all the EU countries with our EU Digital COVID Certificates. Though I am grateful for this option, I am rather wary and dare not stick my head out of the bunker too soon. It is after all the early days of recovery, and the damn Delta variant is busy making its rounds.

Since the first lockdown, I have been utilizing my memory to relive past travels in my mind. And having been alive for half a century and have lived on three different continents, I am definitely not short of the ingredients to conjure up some lovely memories of past travels. I call these flashback journeys. 😛

Nevertheless, I do want to travel like it is pre-Covid. Wishful thinking maybe, but one may always dream…

Belgium, Simplify, Travels

Errands By Bike

There were five things on my to-do list for this afternoon. I needed to return a couple of library books, use an ATM, check out the July sales at the shopping centre in Kortrijk, look for Shoe Goo, and lastly a short visit to the grocery store for a handful of things.

Well, the supposedly typical afternoon errand run turned into a mini cycling adventure for me. In a few hours time, D and I accomplished all the above mentioned tasks, and more. So as a reward for being brave and green, we treated ourselves to some good beers at a café.

For someone who had never learned to cycle, I did rather well. Tired thighs are normal and expected, but I noticed that my lower back discomfort has completely disappeared after the exertion. Well done, me. 🙂

Belgium, Flashbacks, Numbers, Travels

At 31…

It was the year 2002.

The year started with my second semester in college, working towards a diploma in graphics design. I was staying with my cousin Eileen in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

My school days were spent learning new skills, making friends and exploring my creativity. Graphics design turned out to be something I was rather good at. At the college art show in November, I won several prizes including The Best of Show with one of my illustration pieces. 🙂

In the summer, I crossed the Atlantic for the first time to visit D in Belgium. My first European trip, and it was wonderful! Later, D and I travelled to San Francisco to visit my sister and get to experience the city together.

The year 2002 was filled with happy school days, new long term friends, and memorable travels.

Two days ago, a 31-year old cyclo-cross cyclist lose her fight to aggressive brain tumour. Rest in peace, Jolien.

Flashbacks, Jibber Jabber, Travels

Corporate America

More than a decade ago, I lived in the United States of America. To many, that life might have been the ultimate dream.

For many years, my co-workers were also my friends, and I was okay with that. Gradually, the strain of being on standby mode 24/7, and not having any separation between weekdays and weekends took its toll. Long story short, I left the American Dream to embark on my European Adventure.

Corporate America – Been there. Done that. And admittedly, I neither love it nor hate it!

Belgium, Numbers, Travels

Hello Flanders

D and I planned to visit the city of Hasselt today. We decided that it will be a good way to use up the last two rides of our free rail pass.

Boy, were we in for an adventure!

The trip from Harelbeke to Brussels South was normal. The short wait at the big station was spent taking photos and taking a short walk outside the building. In no time, we were on the train bound for Hasselt. Or so we thought. The train stopped at Nossegem and the passengers were told that there had been an incident which has caused serious disruptions. D later found out that it was most likely a suicide. We were in the train for a while before it backed up till Zaventem and turned back towards Brussels North.

Because we refused to give up on our city trip, D and I took the train to Antwerp, then hopped on the train to Aarschot. At Aarschot, we needed to switch train again. At five in the afternoon, we finally reached our destination!

Hasselt is a quaint old city with much to offer. It is a place worth going back to. Even though D and I made good use of the hour or so of daylight, there were probably plenty we have missed seeing because of the time constraint. We definitely missed the opportunity of enjoying some local specialities. Next time, when this virus nightmare is over…

The westward bound journey was boring in comparison. We stopped once at Brussels South and only needed to take two trains to get home.

Today, D and I did ‘Dwars door Vlaanderen‘ by train. We crossed and stepped on all five provinces, rode on seven different trains, and was at six stations. We definitely made full use of our Hello Belgium rail pass! 😛

Belgium, Flashbacks, Malaysia, Travels

Walk, Bike, Bus & Train

For most of my life and in all the places I have lived in, I have been dependent on the car for transportation. The only place that I did not need a car was San Francisco, and the reason is because I lived in the city and can walk to most places. Also, one can rely on the public transportation in most US cities.

Not in Malaysia though. Our public transportation system was downright shameful. Well, at least that was the case when I relied on the buses to get to school in the 90s when I lived in Kota Kinabalu. Public transportation did not exist in my home town when I lived there – and probably still not?!

The Belgians complain a lot about their existing public transportation. But for me, I have walked, biked, took the buses and trains in the past decade more than I ever did my entire life.

When one grew up in a third world country, one appreciates the freedom and security that public transportation in a peaceful and developed country such as Belgium.

Flashbacks, Malaysia, Travels

I Miss Flying

I miss long distance travels. *insert big sigh here*

In the past decade, my trips back to Malaysia were more than just tropical vacations. These trips were often coupled with some ongoing projects I have been working on remotely, to be concluded back home.

Even my trips to the United States are more than just carefree holidaying, because I always seem to have some matters I need to take care of.

Despite the unpleasantness of air travels, I do miss flying?!