Book: Paris Letters

Paris Letters, by Janice MacLeod

Paris Letters, by Janice MacLeod

This one I finished reading a few days ago, and I must say it was one of those books that caught me from the very first page and left me with a ‘is it already over?!’ kind of feeling. A great book in the sense that it’s a true story, in the sense that the story is only a few years old, and in the sense that the person writing the book has done massive change in order to get what she really wanted in life. In other words, it was inspiring to me and I believe it has inspired many others too.

Whose dream life am I living? Because it’s certainly not mine.

Janice MacLeod is the one telling her own story, a story that started with a blog, and then a number of letters, that later became this book, Paris Letters.

I started this journey by getting rid of clothes, but eventually I slowly peeled off the layers of judgements I had placed upon myself for failing to get married by the ripe old age of thirty-four. For failing to find happiness in my chosen career. For creating a life that wasn’t much fun. I let myself off the hook. I forgave myself for the judgments. The truth is that I did the best I could with what I knew at the time.

I might have felt an extra connection to Janice in the book, since she walks the streets of Paris like a mad person, and we too have walked the streets of Paris, and now are walking the streets of Singapore, maybe not like mad but still walking a lot and exploring life and places. And maybe also because she decides to clear out her stuff, to make huge changes and live life in a different way than before.

We must know how to design our lives. We are all artists, and each day is a canvas.

From the first page I made marks in the book, I highlighted sentences and sections that stood out and spoke to me, quotes I wanted to share with others or be able to find easily another time. And those great quotes and powerful words just kept on coming throughout the whole book.

There is a certain freedom in not having so many choices.

So, either if you want to read a interesting story of someone re-directing her life completely, or if you are looking for some company on your own journey in life, this is a great book!

With love from Singapore,
Wivan

Anders and I in Paris earlier this year

Anders and I in Paris earlier this year

Hector and the search for happiness

Earlier tonight we watched a movie that really hit home for both of us: Hector and the search for Happiness.

The title speaks for itself: Hector goes on a search for happiness. The movie might put a smile on your face or help you think about your own happiness, or it might help you reflect on what’s important in your life.

“The only shadow on my happiness is when I tell myself sometimes that as it’s all going well, it can’t last, that one day things won’t be so good.”

If you have seen it, or choose to watch it now – please let us know what you think!

// Anders & Wivan

Kampong Glam and Little India

Those colorful and market-inspired areas. With tasteful food from India and the Middle East.

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Sidewalk in Little India

You get on the metro from the modern, business busy central parts of the city…

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Clarke Quay

… and you get off close to a hawker center with prata-bread and curry to die for.

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Mutton curry and daal + garlic prata

We had a nice trip to these areas of Singapore the other day.

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Pretty shop houses

Here you can find saris, get your Indian spices freshly mixed, listen to your favorite Bollywood music and buy the movies, buy fresh fruits and vegetables, eat real Indian food and get lost over and over in a rather small area.

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Did we say getting lost? We were.

It’s certainly different from the stylish modern buildings in our area of town.

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Arab street

And then, a walk in the heat of the day, and you reach Arab street and the Kampong Glam area.

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My favorite street, Haji Lane

I had gotten my eyes on Haji Lane via Instagtam. With lots of colorful pictures and inspiring cafés, I couldn’t wait to see it.

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Haji Lane

It’s become one of those streets that’s rather part of a movement than being just a street. Where it feels modern, yet the houses are old, the hipsters and Instagrammers love it with the colors and little different shops.

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Beautiful street art in Kampong Glam

It’s a great area for taking pictures, and you will see people snapping photos everywhere.

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Anders determined to sit down and have a coffee

So, the Middle Eastern part of Kampong Glam, or the area of Arab street and Haji Lane? It’s there too. Maybe not exactly on those two streets, but in the area.

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Tailor made clothes

Carpets, scarfs, hand made silk clothes and more.
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What started as a living and shopping area for people from the same part of the world, has become a modern picture and coffee favorite. Kampong Glam certainly is a lot different from what we saw in Cairo and Istanbul last winter, but we recognize some things and the sense is there. And of course the food. It’s always a lot about the food in Singapore.

Kampong Glam reminds me of Södermalm in Stockholm, or some of the streets in Malmö in southern Sweden. Going back here another time? Certainly!

// Wivan

Stepping out of lonliness

Rarely two people see or take in the same things even if we look at the same spot

Rarely two people see or take in the same things even if we look at the same spot

I felt almost obliged to post a follow-up from yesterday, some kind of bad conscience for letting you hang in that “they’re feeling lonely” thing. Two things about my taking responsibility for you there: What you feel or think is yours and not mine, and loneliness is just a part of our experience of how life is, it’s not all. Far from it.

Our thinking changes moment by moment, so the ability to have a new thought about an old situation is natural and ever present.
– Michael Neill –

So, after posting yesterday’s blog post about us feeling a bit lonely at times, I did a lot of thinking. All of that resulted in a bit more active searching, during one of my two internet slots of the day, about what activities are available here in Singapore and other chances of meeting new people while traveling as a couple.

In a post on Reddit people give advice on how to meet people during travels as a couple. Some good tips there!

And then, here in Singapore, I found a couple of groups offering free walking tours, and that certainly is something for us to do! Probably next week, since it’s Christmas and they seem to take a break during the coming days. Look here for Indie Singapore and Singapore Footprints. I also found the Meetup Group webpage with lots of different activities in different cities and places to consider. Maybe not the most activities during the holidays, but if living in a city like this, searching the page and trying out some of the groups probably easily fills a week of fun.

At Haji Lane in Kampong Glam, Singapore

At Haji Lane in Kampong Glam, Singapore

Since we will be here for about two and a half more weeks we’ll at least do some of the free walking tours to get out and about together with others a few times. The Meetup Group page is certainly something I will look at in the future when we reach other cities or places with bigger populations.

As of our little field trip to Little India and Kampong Glam yesterday, that’s a post of it’s own.

In Little India, Singapore

In Little India, Singapore

Thanks for being around and Merry Christmas!

//Wivan

A little bit lonely – travelers’ life?

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Breakfast on the street

Over the past weeks, pretty much since we left Bali, both of us at times have missed having people to talk to and to get to know. In Bali we met so many warm, kind people caring for us, interested in getting to know us regardless of if we speak the same language or not.
In Thailand there were other tourists and travelers and they rarely seemed interested in getting to know new people, and most of the locals were more into “selling to tourists” than open to becoming friends with a couple of Swedes.

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New friend!

Now, being in a large city, it up at moments – we are a bit lonely. The big plus is that this city is wide open, welcoming and easy to get around. But most people have their lives going already and are in the middle of something. Meeting strangers on the street isn’t really on their agenda. We would need to be part of something, take a course or get into a community to make others notice us here.

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Our great duo

We guess it’s different too, since we’re not staying in hostels where it’s usually a more sharing atmosphere and people traveling alone also go there. Since we’re a couple, we always have each other and that might close us off to some who don’t want to interfere or get in the way of our twosome.

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Bathing an elephant and talking to the others

In Thailand, when we went for some tours, both of us were the smiling, chatty people trying to strike up a conversation… It was a bit funny when we realized it after a while!

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Reminder

This has also made us realize that as humans it is important to be part of something, to be recognized every now and then, to have someone to talk to. For us that are traveling for a long period, it’s very good to see this so clearly as we do now, because then we can act on it. We want to find places and activities where we can be part of something, and our new-found interest for diving might be one of those. To be able to meet with friends, like we did the other week, is awesome. And our Skype sessions with friends and family members, the messages and e-mails that we send and receive really mean something and are precious to us. And, as a matter of fact, this blog is important. We know you are reading and following our journey, it is an outlet for thoughts, insights, creativity, sharing and questions we have. And every now and then there is a comment or an e-mail from someone who wants to talk about a subject, or who just wants to say hi.

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Great fun cooking with Ploy in Khao Lak

So, to all of you who read this: to all of our friends, to our families: Thank you! You are important, you make a difference and we are grateful for you being part of our lives in one way or another.

With lots of love,

Anders and Wivan

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Morning boat ride in Bali

Chinatown in Singapore

Took a walk to get to Chinatown this afternoon and after looking on a map in beforehand I felt pretty sure of direction and approximate distance.

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Yey! Chinatown!

But, what sometimes happens when crossing wide streets and bridges is that the direction gets slightly off… So, I ended up in another park, and after walking through it I ended up walking around a huge construction site…

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Everywhere shopping

The distance I actually walked surely was a bit further than what the map had shown, and I was sweating in the afternoon sun. But, it’s really good for my minds map of Singapore that I use to get around by foot.

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Men gathered playing board games

After finally getting in to Chinatown and strolling up and down a few streets, looking at food stalls, shopping streets and centers, I found what I had set out to find: reflexology. I miss the massages I got in Thailand and Bali, so after reading several statements of great reflexology treatments here in Singapore, I really wanted to find a good place at a good price. Chinatown was my best bet.

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Massage and reflexology heaven

There are many good quality, local style massage and reflexology places on the third floor of People’s Park Complex. I paid 18 Singapore dollars for a 45 minute massage. I have had reflexology a couple of times before, and I would love to say it feels very good and relaxing. Part of the time it does, part of the time it can be very painful. But, I know that my body usually reaponds well to the treatment and how it helps the entire system to heal and reboot, so, I take the good with the bad!

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Pretty streets in Chinatown

It was a good massage today and I am curious to see what the body feels like tomorrow. Afterwards I found a somewhat more straight way back home, and even got some take-away Indian to bring home for dinner. That too, something I had longed for.

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Lots of food for $10 (there's more outside the picture)

Take care and treat yourself with lots of kindness!
//Wivan

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Interesting things to buy

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Hungry for something special?

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Chinese medicine store

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Nice decorations

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Happy to find a public bathroom

First week in Singapore – how was it?

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Orchard Road in Singapore

Coming from many weeks of beach life in small places like Khao Lak in Thailand and Pemuteran in Bali, it was a bit overwhelming to arrive in this fancy business-shopping-eating-city called Singapore. Our house sit is in a nice area close to the river and Robertson Quay with lots of nice restaurants and cafées that does cost a bit to visit.

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Look! A cocoa shop!!!

So, after our first chock of how expensive it really is, we have now settled, found some good places for eating and buying groceries, we have done a bit of sightseeing by foot and really like the many walkable places around.

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Love those stairs!

Yesterday I took a walk in the morning, and found a super nice park that inspired me to do some interval training in the many stairs. Lots of fun! And it does work to do a bit of exercise even in a shorts/skirt and walking boots!

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Sweaty and happy

We have been using the pool every day since we got here, and we have enjoyed some great coffee from the local Common Man Coffee Roasters, though we got some coffee beans from them and make it ourselves with the beloved Bialetti moka maker that we carry, rather than buying one cup for 5 Singapore dollars. It certainly is something extra with the Bialetti, it is so good!

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Local roast and our well traveled Bialetti

The shopping district of Orchard Road is decorated with Christmas ornaments, glitter and Santa Claus figures all over. To us it feels a bit weird, since its over 25 degrees Celsius and we walk around in flip flop sandals and shorts, nothing like what Christmas used to be to us back in Sweden as kids!

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Decorations

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Orchard Road

The past week we also had the opportunity to meet up with a friend who I have known since we were kids, and the past 20 years she’s been one of my closest friends. She has been living here in Singapore for four years now, so her drawings on a map and tips for getting around sure is great. Not to mention the wonderful feeling of meeting someone who knows us, whom we can talk about anything with, and who cares for us like family. Wonderful!
We will meet up again in January when shes back from the holidays in Sweden.

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Evening at miss C's place

So, all in all, its been a great first week here with some cooking, lots of movies and series – Anders stayed up two whole nights to watch an entire season of Sons of Anarchy, swimming and exercise, cuddling with Bronson the cat, walking, exploring the neighborhood, visiting a dive shop to get some gear and talk about diving, eating fresh fruits, visiting markets and eating local food, washing clothes, sleeping, reading and writing.

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Happy boy after trying out new gear

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Fresh fruits and banana pancake

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Bronson getting combed

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Thai papaya salad in the making

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Neighborhood