Show Me Naomi

So, it hasn’t been long since I became single and I am still healing every day. I was in a long-term relationship that lasted for 2 years and 8 months. We almost made it to three. For a long time, I thought I was going to marry him. I even moved to a different city that I didn’t even know if I wanted to be in for him and started my life from scratch over there. However, I made a decision to put myself first, move to a new city that I actually wanted to be in and to get rid of all the toxicity that both of us had a hand in making. It was not an easy decision and I do doubt it sometimes. Nonetheless, the sun still shines bright for me. I feel a lot lighter. I am learning a lot about myself and what I want. I am enjoying being single, surprisingly. I have been keeping myself busy.

Until today, I can still feel the love I have for him but I don’t miss him all that much. It’s hard not to cry sometimes, but it’s getting easier. Yesterday, I looked at a photo of us and I just smiled. They were really happy memories that I don’t regret making and I was not upset over the fact that they are just memories now. I also think he is an amazing person with a heart of gold and deserves all the success that I know he is going to have. He is hardworking and incredibly smart which is why I fell in love with him in the first place. I don’t think any less of him and I hope someone special will get to experience being his partner in crime because he can teach you so much about the world – camping, rock climbing; he knows a trick or two. He just wasn’t the one for me and I am starting to be okay with it.

Really, I am truly warming up with being single and just caring for one person – me. I think I lost a bit of myself in the relationship and I’m finding my feet again.  It’s been going pretty well. I’ve even been dating around and I must say love is rare so I would like to thank him for loving me for the past 2 years and 8 months unconditionally. There were so many times when either of us could have just walked out in that period of time but we still chose one another until we couldn’t and didn’t. Our highs were very high but our lows were very low and we had many faults and flaws but the love was very unconditional and forgiving which is a kind of love I hope to find again. It has certainly set a certain standard for what I want to find now. I think in time, we will both be glad that it happened. 

And when I say love is rare, I really mean it. I have been distancing myself lately not just because of the corona virus but also to just get a peace of mind to continue healing and to reflect on everything that has happened and is happening in my life. That feeling of being loved is just so immense and I don’t know if I will ever find it again or at least anytime soon. I am grateful that I have felt it and can now understand the joy of and know that I am capable of giving that kind of love to someone as well. I feel very lucky. For now though, I am fulfilled with reading all the books I have been meaning to, cooking, catching up with my friends (occasionally annoying them, of course), gathering new life projects, rock climbing, playing the ukulele again, dancing, listening and curating my Spotify playlists and finally building a life in a city that I have always wanted to live in for a bit – Vancouver. I am pretty content with where I am now – I have a job, I am moving into my own space soon and I tell all my friends how in love I am with them. What more can a girl want? 

Attention, of course. Like I mentioned above, I have been dating around simply to check out what Vancouver has to offer. I have been on Hinge for a bit now. I personally think it is the only app worth having (that’s my two cents) but you will still find weirdos on it. At least they’re sort of educated though? I have started to value myself a lot more and I am not going on a date with a guy who I know from the get go does not deserve me at all so if you have been on a date with me, you’ve at least gotten that far. Congratulations! 

Anyway, I have been on dates with guys who I cannot connect with at all. When I first started dating, I didn’t even know how to go on dates anymore. I was so comfortable with being in a relationship. I even treated one of the guys that I liked as if he were my boyfriend and I had to learn how to shield some of the privileges that I feel only a boyfriend should have from him because he was clearly not on that level yet. He honestly didn’t deserve me like that until we defined the kind of relationship we had and of course we decided not to date anymore so.. haha (he did make me feel like a woman nonetheless and our dates were incredible so thank you! I appreciate men that treat you right and respect you even if all that effort does not end up in a relationship – true gems who know how to communicate still exist!). 

All and all, it has been confusing. I can safely say that life has become less confusing but dating is just weird to me now and I might take a break from it altogether. I also might not, I am an attention whore and I admit it. What I can say though is, there are so many fucbois but it’s been pretty easy to spot them. Some guys are just not emotionally ready for a relationship and sex aside, some guys are not mentally ready for a relationship. I’ve been on dates with guys who were just in the hospital a week before asking me out because they were trying to commit suicide. I know I’m not a 100% and that is why I am taking things slow and guys should also keep in mind where they’re at mentally and emotionally and know what they want from dating. Then there are the guys who you can talk to for hours and have great conversations but you’re not sexually attracted and vice versa when you meet in person. I might have come away with a few good friends from this experience too and they laugh at all my dating stories now, aha!

And last but not least there are the guys who will ask you out repeatedly and you connect super well – you get to know the the kind of music he likes (I don’t know, music is just a really intimate thing for me, I don’t share how much I love John Mayer on the regular), where he wants to travel to, some things about his family or how he grew up – but nothing materialises and you just don’t know where things are going. Then you just stop texting even though you might really like that person. This has only really happened twice now. I just wish these guys would grow a pear and tell me what they want sometimes. It would make things easier. If I’m being benched, just let me know. I will probably walk away but if I like you enough, I’m pretty loyal and the feeling might stick. 

I know it’s 2020, and I should probably say something if they are not but maybe I am not chasing something or anything at all. I might just want to keep things casual at least for the next 2-6 months even though the concept of being casual is so foreign to me. Conversations are good to have though people. Have them, please, do not follow my lead. The dating game in this age is so hard to navigate around but I am glad I have standards. I have learned that if a guy likes you enough, he will text you to make plans. He will want to do things, you don’t even have to prompt him and if you do, he might just not be that into you and that’s okay too. As for chasing someone down, I don’t think I have that kind of energy yet. I would if I did, I’ve asked most of my boyfriends out to be honest. I just don’t know if I have enough heart to give just yet and I want to give all of it when the time comes, trust me. 

Anyway, this is just me being extremely raw and having a cathartic release from all the craziness in the world while listening to Show Me Naomi by Bahamas. I am really digging that song right now. 

 

Love,

Nicole

4 Epic Travel Fails: London, Ontario or London, United Kingdom?

When you travel, you are bound to make mistakes. Even the most seasoned of travelers can mess up – real bad.

I have had so many travel fails in my years of living abroad and trying to do something over the weekends. When I lived in the United Kingdom, I missed flights, trains, buses (the list goes on)… to travel to Europe, Scotland, Cornwall… and recently in Canada, Korea and Japan too but that doesn’t necessarily make you a bad traveler. It certainly teaches you to be a better one though!

Lately I have been laughing at all my travel fails when somebody tells me: “wow! you’ve seen the world”. I know I may come off as a very organized and amazing traveler on my Instagram but trust me, I am far from it. Here are stories to prove it:

1. “I’m heading to London, United… wait, Ontario?!”

In September 2016, during my second year of undergraduate studies in Canada, I saw super cheap deals to London in an e-mail from Air Canada. Naturally, I looked at it and was like, well, I guess it’s time to book a flight to the United Kingdom and head back there this Christmas since a lot of my family and friends were going to be there.

I had many friends on exchange that year in the United Kingdom from Singapore. Many of my friends from British International Schools abroad and from the United Kingdom were still based there too so everything seemed to fit. I looked at the flight time – 1 hour. Just an hour before, I saw an article on MTLBlog that highlighted that a jet could fly from Canada to the United Kingdom in an hour. I opened up some random dates and booked it (assuming my exams were not going to fall then!) instantly because maybe Air Canada is using that jet for this ride, eh?

As December got closer, I was happy that luck was on my side in the exams department. I was leaving on the very last day of my exams. Perfect.

Then I saw my ticket. London… ONTARIO?!

I called my mother up and had to verify that London, Ontario does exist. I mean, I had only been in Canada for a year if you count all the trips I take back to the UK, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal were the only cities I had only really heard of and the only London I knew was in the United Kingdom. Why do they have the same names?!

I had to change my flight and I am pretty sure the booking agent at Air Canada found the situation hilarious. In the end, I made it to London, United Kingdom. And Spain and Germany after… phew.

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Hyde Park, London, United Kingdom

Things I learned? Check the destination, especially if it’s the same name. I check flights to Sydney, Australia (where my sister is based) very thoroughly now because I have seen Sydney, Nova Scotia on destination lists. I also learned not to trust MTLBlog.

2. “I swear I booked the airbnb for this weekend.”

I had never been to Toronto until September 2016. It was my first time and I was glad I had a friend who was willing to spend that weekend with me there. I was super excited and booked an airbnb and e-mailed it to her to make sure we had the right dates.

We took a midnight bus the week after and got to Toronto super early. We decided to nap at a Tim Hortons’s and check into our airbnb as soon as we could. When we arrived to the airbnb, the host sounded a little confused but still allowed us into her apartment.

As we were beginning to unpack, two other people arrives. My host knocks on our door and whacks her phone out to open the app. At first, we didn’t know if she had double booked but it turned out that I had booked it for the next weekend. I was going to Boston the next weekend and was really excited about it and must have entered those dates instead.

After getting kicked out of our airbnb we were scrambling for options but most hostels had been taken up by American students who were in the six for their spring breaks. Alas, we booked a really sketchy one.

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Toronto, Canada

We checked into our sketchy room and headed out. We decided we needed a lot of sangria for this hell of a day. As we stumbled back to our hostel, we realized that we did not take a picture of the code for the door and there was nobody in the lobby after 9pm so we could not ask anyone to let us in.

We just waited it out and eventually somebody opened the door and we made it back into what we could finally call, our place, for the weekend. (P.S. We are still best friends LOL).

Major lesson here? Book your airbnb for the right dates, make sure your friend checks it over, and remember codes in accommodations!

3. “Where is Mount Popa?”

In Summer 2015, I was traveling Myanmar for a good three weeks with a friend from Singapore. The two of us, short and small Singaporean girls, were very tired from traveling Yangon, Mandalay and Inle Lake before arriving at Bagan. Nonetheless, we remained very ambitious.

When we arrived at Bagan we immediately hopped on electric scooters and started on our temple run. After that, we returned to our accommodation and started to plan for our next day. We were a little tight on our budget but wanted to go to Mount Popa to see the monkeys and the amazing temple that sat atop of Bagan. The view looked amazing from pictures.

We googled the distance to Mount Popa. 50km? I have ran a marathon, let’s cycle, I said. We really did not want to hire a cab nor an electric scooter. We were going to cycle (this obviously was a very bad idea).

We started our journey early the next day. The first 10km was nothing. But it got worse. Locals felt so sorry for us and gave us water/food on the way when we said we were trying to go to Mount Popa. Midway it was noon and the sun so blazing hot. We didn’t bring our sunscreen either so yes, we were very burnt, and we were asking each other “where is Mount Popa?” and “are we there yet?”.

As we approached Mount Popa, we had to ride our bikes on uneven terrains and mud. Our clothes were ruined. We didn’t have energy to go up the mountain but we did. Thankfully the view was amazing.

As we got down – we realized we had no way back unless we cycled…. or hitch hiked. And hitch hiked we did. I am so thankful for the locals in Bagan for helping out two ambitious girls who had absolutely no idea what they were getting themselves into!

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Bagan, Myanmar

What did this lesson teach me? 50 km on a bicycle is a lot, even for marathon runners. Also, don’t assume the route is all road! Expect the unexpected.

(P.S: We are also still best friends)

4. “I am only going to pack bikinis, crop tops and shorts”

My boyfriend was visiting me from Canada in Japan during my exchange and we had planned to go to Jeju Island. Right before our trip, I was in Okinawa and a week before, I was in El Salvador. They were super warm. I figured that if Jeju is on the southern tip of Korea, I would not be that cold, especially since it is an island like Okinawa.

I arrived in Jeju and was so cold. Korea is located a lot more north than Japan so naturally it would be colder but little miss me did not think about that. I ended up using the only jacket and scarf I brought on the flight since Japan was getting chilly, grabbing my boyfriend’s clothes and using them as extra layers. Thank God he’s more sensible than me.

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Jeju Island, Korea

I had only packed bikinis to surf and dive, crop tops to laze around the beaches and shorts because I thought it would be so warm. I did not get to do or wear any of those activities. Travel tip, for real: check the weather. As simple as it may sound!

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I hope these stories will leave you laughing for days. My close friends all think I am a very special person because I am the only person they know who is able to pull off such mistakes. I mean no one is perfect and just because you had a few travel fails doesn’t make you a bad traveler!

In my opinion, the worst travelers are those who go to France and eat Chinese food. Or people who have never been to Australia or Singapore and slam them as expensive countries to live in. They don’t indulge in the local culture or cuisine, speak to the local people and stereotype countries based on what they “know”. This is a big travel NO.

People who are scared to make mistakes or travel alone also won’t see as much as they would if they were fearless too. If there is one thing I learned from traveling is to always get out of my comfort zone, find my own ways to get to places and make it my experience, with or without mistakes.

So on an end note: see the world with wander and when you think you know a place, just know that there will always be little places still waiting to be discovered.  I have lived in 8 countries and I can’t say for sure that I know all of them. I still have so many questions and so much wander in my heart. I am still seeing the world and learning a lot about it too.

Love,

N