Chronicles of one girl's journey to London - from conception to eventual migration.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A LOT CAN HAPPEN IN 5 YEARS

I turn 26 today. 2-6. It is an average age to be. It is neither too old nor too young. I am firmly engrained into my 20s, and my 20s version of adulthood (which, in my case, means having a boyfriend, a flat, a job and a lovely wardrobe but no kids, mortgage or walk-in closet yet). So, I look back and wonder: Where did my 20s go?!


Warning: introspective ramblings follow

And that's when I realize they didn't GO anywhere. They've been right here, accompanying me as I threw myself into my own life. I was almost exactly 21 and a half when I was single again for the first time in almost 5 years and, with no disrespect to the quite nice ex-boyfriend, I consider that the moment when my life kicked into the gear I wanted it to.

I partied my way through the rest of 21, into 22 and on to 23. In that time, though, I made some amazing connections with people I cannot forget. I don't feel any of my time was wasted; even the time spent just sitting on Badr's couch, slightly out of it, was time I enjoyed. I made several mistakes but I regret almost none. I did what I wanted when I wanted and how I wanted. It was good! It's how you should live your 20s if you can. These are your years to use up in whichever way you want.

And then, of course, at 24 I made the decision to move out of the comfort of my mother's (Miss Clara's word again) house and all the way across the Atlantic to London. I made my life way harder than it has ever been, but I like it more than I ever have. I've met even more great people and I've travelled to lots of places. I've lived my DREAM and I can't help but feel smug about it. So, smug I shall be for now.

For those who have followed the blog (or know me) you already know about the ups and downs of my move to London and you know I would change nothing about the last 18 months.

From 21 to today, at 26, I can definitely say I have come a long way. More than just my location, my outlook on life has changed and I really do feel more "grown up". It's a short amount of time for that to happen considering you spend the first 13 years of your life gradually earning your stripes to make it through teenhood.

In our 20s, a year can mean the difference between single and married - willingly so. It can mean the difference between intern and manager (yes, really) and it even means a few months means the difference in willingly becoming a parent.

So, 5 years down the road, I can look back and feel like the time may have whizzed by but it was in a flurry of accomplishments and great memories.

The moral of the story: if you do what you want, and you do it with passion and confidence, your 20s actually are some of the best years of your life. Although I'll let you know how I really feel about that when I'm 36 (good heavens)!

TL;DR: I'm getting older. I don't mind cause I've done stuff.



Friday, December 16, 2011

MABUHAY!

2 days ago I returned from one of the best holidays I have ever had. We were in the Philippines for our friends Melanie and Anthony's wedding. Good friends, in fact, as Qas was asked to be Best Man!

I was really excited to go, and feel very lucky that I was able to. Because this year, the trip to the Philippines was my birthday/Christmas present from Qas. I know . . . and sorry, no, he has no similar-minded brothers, friends or cousins - he is one of a kind and I am a very lucky girl!

Anyway, we were there from December 6th and got home on the 14th. With that long a trip, there is so much to tell you about that I don't even know where to start. So here it is presented in an A-Z list! Hopefully I can get everything in . . .

A
Anthony - The groom. He is awesome and very sweet and very obviously madly in love with his wife. He is really caring and kind. I am a big fan.

B
Boracay - The actual island we went to in the Philippines. It is located about 315 km south of Manila and is so tiny it doesn't even register on my little spinny-globe-lamp on my desk.

Beach Wedding - The entire purpose of our trip! Mel and Anthony got married on Saturday December 10th on the gorgeous white beach of Boracay. I cried all the way through. One of the most beautiful weddings I have ever witnessed!



C
Caticlan - Where we landed on the afternoon of Wednesday December 7th. The island houses the main airport for the region, and is closest to Boracay. From here, our resort picked us up and took us to the neighbouring island of Boracay on an air-conditioned mini yacht! It takes only 8 minutes to get to Boracay's pier.

Crocodile Island - One of the spots where we snorkelled. There are no crocodiles though. I was a bit disappointed at that to be honest.


Christina - Mel's godsister and her other bridesmaid. She is really sweet, a bit quiet but with some really good quips. She caught Mel's bouquet.

D
Discovery Shores - we stayed here for our holiday and it is hands down the best resort or hotel I have ever stayed in. We were given foot massages as a welcome . . .! I recommend it to anyone.

Divinia - Another of Mel's friends. She lives in Hong Kong now, is super friendly and quite funny!


E
Evelyn - Mel's friend from school and one of the bridesmaids. She is lovely, and loves photography - she has 4 lenses for her camera.


F
Freaking long journey home - It took us 36 hours. 36 hours from Boracay to London in boats, buses, planes. There were major delays on our Manila-Doha flight so we sat in the airport for hours. The upside was getting home late enough in the evening that we just went straight to bed, which has really helped with the jetlag.

G
Green Mangoes - These are absolutely the best things I have ever tasted. They are so sweet and make amazing fresh smoothies. I had several of them. Sometimes in a day.

H
High Tide - Every single night, the tide from the sea would come so far up it would literally be IN some of the bars and retaurants. While it wasn't too bad on our end of the beach, it was still enough to have to move furniture into the resort.

I
Island Hopping - We did this on Sunday. We went all the way around the perimeter of Boracay on a boat, and stopped at a couple of the islands to snorkel.

Ice Cream Boats - O, the ever-enterprising people of the island! We have ice cream vans and sometimes ice cream bikes, they have ice cream boats. They paddle up to the boats of tourists out for a snorkel to sell ice cream.

J
Jane - Mel's cousin from Alberta and her maid of honour. We had a good chat about Canadian winters.

James - Lots of fun, had a great time on the dance floor.

Jon - One of Anthony's groomsmen, and a very sweet guy.

Jellyfish - We saw one, then several and then all got out of the water in fear when we snorkelled.

Jeepneys - The Philippines' version of a local bus. They are metal buses that you can hop on or off where you like along the route . . . people from Pakistan or India might recognize something similar there too.

K
Killer food - I don't mean sharks. I mean the food here is so amazing, I could die! Everything is made so well, and with very fresh ingredients that even their fries tasted great.

L
Like Heaven - This island is actually my version of heaven. Even when it rained, it was gorgeous and made me smile.

Left a book on a plane - I left A Brief History of Time on the plane from Doha to Manila and only noticed on the last day. It wasn't even my book, I borrowed it from Qas who hasn't even had a chance to read it yet. Oops. 

M
Melanie - The bride and an all-around awesome person. She, too, is obviously very much in love with her new husband. Also, as anyone will tell you, she has the best laugh.

Manila - We stopped here for one night on our way to the wedding. Unfortunately, I was quite ill from the flight so we didn't see much but the road to the hotel!

Massages - I got 4 while I was there. One was the welcome foot one, then 3 full body ones. I love this life.

N
Nightlife - The bars and clubs on the beach are always open, with loud music pouding out of them and lots of great offers on drinks.  

O
O Lord - The church wedding was the morning of the 10th and I got to do a reading and the first responsorial psalm. It was a big deal for me as I haven't known the couple that long so I feel very blessed that they asked me to do this.


P
Parents - Anthony's dad is an OG! Both sets of parents, really, were just great. There were, of course, some words as there always is at weddings but they just seemed really happy for their kids and it was so nice to see.

Pete - Evelyn's fiance and one of the most awesome people I have met. You know that guy who knows a guy for everything? Pete's that guy.

Q
Qas - Well, those who read already know who he is. And how awesome he is for taking me on this holiday of a lifetime! And how grateful I am to him.

R
Ryan -Mel's cousin and also Jane's brother. He was also an avid photographer, but did not enjoy it when we dragged him onto the dance floor at the reception. He also caught the garter!

Rooster -All day and all night, we heard them crowing. All day. All night.

Rain - It rained for the first couple of days, and quite a lot on one of those days. Luckily, it cleared up just in time for the wedding on Saturday and it was perfect weather from then on.

S
Service - The service at our resort is unmatched to any other I have ever seen or received. The service on the island in general is outstanding. The people are kind, willing to help and always smiling.

Snorkelling
- We went for a day. It was so much fun and I always love seeing fishies!

Shanty towns - The reality of the Philippines is that much of the country lives in what we would consider squalor. In fact, there was a house with no roof, one room for sleeping and another for bathing on the other side of the wall of our resort. Tin roofs are common to see, and there are no working toilets in many of the homes from the looks of it.

T
Tricycles - The most common mode of transport on the island and the ONLY mode of public transport. It is basically a motorcycle with a side cart attached to it. It comfortably fits 4 with 2 in front and 2 in the back. It uncomfortably fits 6 with 2 in front and 4 in the back.

U
Underwater -  This trip was only the 3rd or 4th time I have been snorkelling and it never gets old. Being able to see all the life under the surface is awe-inspiring. I even saw Nemo (which inspired me so much I had to watch Finding Nemo on the plane back)!

V
Very bad taxi driver - On our way home from Heathrow, our taxi driver hit a guy on a motorbike (he's fine, just angry and rode away of his own accord), swerved so fast on a right turn that I went flying across the back seat and almost rear-ended everyone he was behind. We yelled at him, then reported him to Tooting Bec Mini Cabs. They did not seem to care. Do not get in a car with Driver 23.


W
White Sand Beaches -  Officially the best beach in Asia, Boracay's white sands are soft and feel like walking on plush carpet.

X
Really . . .? Why did I think I could do something with X?!

Y
Yellow dresses - The bridesmaids wore a lovely shade of buttery yellow for the beach ceremony with a corsage shoulder.

Z
Zaira - who had the time of her life!