#tb to vietnam, april 2018

#tb to vietnam, april 2018

in march, one of my best friends announced she was getting married in april, in vietnam. after all of the congratulating and general screaming, we all started planning the trip. we didn’t have much time, and we needed to sort out the visas first, which always takes the longest. april is my busiest month work wise, because i am a teacher, and my kids sit their exams in may. but i knew i needed to go on this trip, and anyway, i had already planned a trip in the last week of march, so i just extended my holiday. 

traveling is something that is really important to me, and i love it. traveling with my best friends is a once in a life time thing, so i am forever thankful for the opportunity. i’d never been to vietnam before, so i was extra excited to visit a new place. 

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v gloomy flight, and the dreaded malaysia airlines logo

unfortunately my flight was one of the worst experiences i’d ever had. i was flying with one of my friends (everyone else was meeting us there) and we first had issues because i had written her name wrong on the ticket (that was entirely my fault, but it was so frustrating). then, our flight was delayed by 12 hours, in 2 hour intervals. thankfully, we weren’t at the airport the whole time, but the stress of the name drama and then the constant flight delays were terrible for my anxiety. at one point i just wanted to stay home lol. but, after more than 24 hours of travel, we finally made it, and seeing the rest of my friends made us feel instantly better.

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pool!

the wedding was in hoi an, which is a little tourist village in east vietnam. we flew in to ho chi min and then to hoi an, and the difference between the two was insane. ho chi min is so hectic and crazy (and we were there at like 2 am), and hoi an was so silent and chill. it was perfect.

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the village is full of little stores and this is a picture i took while i waited for my friends to finish shopping (my feet were killing me so i had to sit down)

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we stayed for a week, and the wedding was on the day before the last. it was such a calm and relaxing holiday. honestly, all we did was eat great food and hang out. there were so many bars, cafes and restaurants that had amazing food (i ate so many spring rolls, it was INSANE), and just wandering around the markets and streets was an adventure in itself. it’s also worth mentioning that everything was ridiculously cheap, which meant i didn’t have to go home and cry at the state of my bank account lol.

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affogato (i am craving one rn)
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our view from the restaurant we had the bachelorette party in
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they sold alcohol by the bucket (i’m the one drinking the coke lol)
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much needed coffee the morning after the wedding, at a very aesthetic cafe
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coconut ornaments (how cool do these look)

the actual wedding was on a boat, which meant we had an amazing view the whole time (although the sun did blind us randomly lol). it was an awesome ceremony, and i enjoyed every minute of it. 

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just as the wedding started, the sun was blinding
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but when the boat turned around, everything was great

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sunset
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post sunset and post wedding, on our way to get fooooooood

 

i would love to visit vietnam again, because mostly when i go on holidays, everything seems like a huge rush. this one was the total opposite, and i loved it.

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#tbt to istanbul, 2017

#tbt to istanbul, 2017

i found a post i had written for a newspaper about my trip to istanbul which wasn’t published, so i thought i would post it here. it’s definitely more formal and not how i would usually write on here, but i am proud of it, so i want to post it 🙂

winter in istanbul

istanbul is a extraordinary city. lying on both sides of the bosphorus strait, which divides europe and asia, the city is awash with the cultures and traditions of the east and the west. i was lucky enough to spend the last week and a half of 2017 in istanbul, and i enjoyed every minute of it.

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flew over the desert to get to istanbul, and this is one of my fave pics from the trip

having never spent any time in temperatures below 16º c, i was nervous about a holiday in winter, where the average temperature was 7º c. turns out, the cold really isn’t so bad. while the winter months don’t allow for interesting street food and outdoor seating at cafes, that’s pretty much all you miss out on if you do visit at this time.

the season also has the added benefit of less tourists, which means visiting typical tourist areas is not hectic at all. the old city, which houses the blue mosque, the hagia sophia and the basilica cistern was calm and quiet. unfortunately, i didn’t go inside the two mosques because that required taking off layers, and it was a very cold day, but just looking at them from the outside was enough – they’re both impressive and gorgeous.

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blue mosque
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basilica cistern (it was so creepy, i really wish i had a better lowlight camera to capture it better)

our hotel was situated in the modern part of the city; the architecture was both modern and traditional, which made for some interesting sights. despite what i thought, there was quite a lot to see in the new city – just walking around made for some interesting discoveries in terms of cafes, places to eat and random mosques and parks. i definitely didn’t feel like i was missing out.

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getting around the city is very easy – all you need is a travel card and since it works on the metro, bus, tram and ferry, it meant i could go anywhere. google maps was my best friend, and although a sim card with data was a little expensive, it was definitely worth it; as friendly as the people of istanbul are, almost no one speaks english, so asking for directions can be difficult.

the language barrier was quite surprising to me – since istanbul was the most tourist friendly area, i assumed there would be people who spoke english, but i was wrong. there were definitely more english speaking people in areas close to the blue mosque and basilica, but that was it. technology came to the rescue though, as all i had to do was type in my question into google translate and handover my phone, and the person i was talking to would type their reply and give it back to me. it was obvious they were all used to it and it was nice to see how seamlessly technology was integrated into their interactions with foreigners.

i was most excited for the turkish food, as i had heard so many amazing things about it. honestly, it wasn’t as great as i expected, but that was probably because my exceptions were very high. a lot of the food was a quite bland, but not to the point where it was tasteless. what i loved, though, was the extensive selections of (halal) meats and cheeses. i have never seen so many cheeses in one place than i did at the breakfast buffet; it was great!

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spicessss
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moar spices!
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found this diner that had the best food omg
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fruits near our hotel

one of my favorite things to do was have hot coffee at one of the many cafes that are spread out across the city. this was perfect pick me up after a few hours of walking around in the cold. my favorite cafe was located two minutes away from my hotel, and it was a coffee shop as well as a bookshop and a library (basically heaven). the coffee was great, but what i loved was the atmosphere – it was so quiet, and the owners were so inviting and hospitable.

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amazing subway art
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i had to do it

my trip was an amazing experience. i would love to visit istanbul again, maybe in the summer. it was an unforgettable holiday, and the perfect end to 2017!

idk what this is

idk what this is

hello. it has been a while. a few days ago, i went through this blog because i am planning on writing a ‘what i learned in 2018’ post, so i wanted to see my 2017 one. turns out i didn’t write one for 2017. probably because it was kind of a shit show, but i digress. i did write one for 2016 (that’s the one i was thinking about), and wow, i was a different and much younger person then. it’s crazy what two years can do.

i also read my other posts, and i actually enjoyed reading them. so i wanted to write and post more, even if future me is the only one who ends up reading it. (hi future me)

so this is an update? well, it’s actually just a ‘can this year end already, i’m ready for a fresh start’ kinda post. i mean, that makes it sounds like i had a shit year, but i didn’t. shit happened, but i think this was a good year in general. but it’s been a really really long one, and i am ready for 2019.

if anyone other than future me is reading, how are you, and how has your 2018 been?

RIP Chester Bennington

RIP Chester Bennington

trigger warning: suicide and depression

Like most of the people my age, I grew up listening to Linkin Park. At the time, I was too young and naive to comprehend what most of the lyrics were talking about. All I thought was, hey this is amazing music, I love it. And I did love it. They were the first band I fell in love with, they were the only band I ever thought about seeing live, and they were my gateway into music in general. And I know A LOT of people felt the same way. Linkin Park was fucking iconic, and had a huge impact on millions of people.

As I grew older, I didn’t listen to their music much, I found new artists and new songs, but if I ever heard a song from Hybrid Theory or Meteora, I knew all the words and I was instantly transported to a time where my brother and I would be in my cousin’s room listening to this amazing new music, and dealing with all the adults telling us to turn it down. Yes, nostalgia is a liar that makes everything seem better than it actually was, but when I remembered those times I felt happy.

Four years ago, when I had just started college, I got depressed. At first, I thought it was just me adjusting to college and being an “adult”. A year later, I realized that is definitely not what it was. During the time of my depression, I tried to consume all the different types of media that had anything to do with mental health, just so that I could find someone who felt the same way I did – to feel like I wasn’t alone in wanting to die, in not having the energy to do anything at all, even things I loved, and in feeling numb to everything around me. I read books which dealt with mental illnesses, I found YouTubers who talked about it, I read so many fucking articles about it, and once or twice I did come across someone who wrote or talked like they understood what I was going through.

I still don’t know why I didn’t even think about going back and listening to Linkin Park songs. I think the main reason was I had never thought their music was sad – it always reminded me of happy times, and like I said, I didn’t understand the lyrics when I first listened. But now, listening to the songs I feel… I don’t know how to put it into words. But I know if I had listened to this music when I felt like dying every fucking day, I would have felt some sort of peace because it turns out Chester Bennington knew exactly what I was going through. And he didn’t sugarcoat it and try to bullshit you into thinking everything was going to be OK.

Hearing about his death was an actual shock to me. I have never felt particularly upset when celebrities have died, but then again, no one I truly admire has died. But when I saw the news about Chester Bennington, I was so sad and upset. At first, I was so confused, why did I feel this way when I hadn’t listened to their music in ages, and didn’t even try listening to their new album? But I was upset because his music was such an important part of my childhood and teenage years, and because he killed himself. My heart broke when I saw that he had hanged himself.

That hit me the hardest, because all I could think was that could have been me. I was so close to killing myself, it scares me to even think about it now. My illness convinced me that I would be doing everyone a favor by doing it, and everyone would be better off without me. It convinced me that there was no one who would care if I just didn’t wake up one day. But my illness was so so wrong. Everyday was a struggle, but with therapy, my amazing mum who never gave up on me, and my faith and God, I was able to tell my illness to fuck off. And I no longer want to die. I can’t even begin to explain what a relief that is. Everyday I am so thankful that I am still here, and I wish I could tell everyone who feels like they want to die that there are so many people who love them, and who can help them, and who would be devastated if they leave.

I wish Chester Bennington had gotten the help he needed. I wish he could be here. If he thought that no one cared, I wish he could see how important he was to so many people. I wish he could have seen there was so much to live for. But I also hope he found some peace and some refuge from the monster that is depression.

Rest in peace Chester Bennington. You will be missed more than you know.

if you are suffering from any mental illnesses, or have suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help. here and here are some resources ❤ 

featured image: linkin park twitter account

I can’t think of a title, oops.

I can’t think of a title, oops.

When I started this blog, I had so many expectations. I didn’t realize that I would fail at everything simply because I wouldn’t post anything.

I didn’t post because I was lazy, I had no inspiration and I forced myself to come up with too many things that were not possible. It took me a really really long time to be ok with the fact that right now, I can’t post regularly. I don’t want to HAVE to do anything, because that is when I lose interest and get lazy and demotivated. Writing is so therapeutic for me. By forcing myself to do it, it took away everything I loved about it. So this blog is not going to be very active in the future, but when I do post, everything will be honest and genuine and from my heart (as cheesy as that sounds haha).

So what have I been up to? I quit my first paying job, I think I know what I wanna do with my life (tentatively LOL), I have been evaluating a lot of things in my life, and I have come to a lot of realizations.

I also read awesome books, made epic new friends and killed a lot of (fictional) bad guys. I have been having fun. I have been having insightful conversations. I have been trying out new things. I have been making plans to do crazy things. And I want to write about all of it, so stay tuned 🙂

Featured Image: The Odyssey Online

I Do Have Faith In Humanity

I Do Have Faith In Humanity

 

This morning, when I opened Twitter as I always do, I was not prepared for what I saw.

On Friday, Trump signed an executive order ordering that families fleeing Syria would not be allowed to enter the United States, and temporarily suspending immigration from 7 Muslim countries – Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan. To be completely honest, this did not surprise me. I knew it was coming, and I resigned myself to the fact that no one could do anything about it.

I don’t live in any of these countries, but I am Muslim and I have experienced racism before. The constant news about Islam, Muslims and terrorism these past few years has desensitized me to a lot of things. I know what the majority of America thinks about Muslims, Islam and immigrants.

Or, I thought I did.

This morning I realized that I was completely and totally wrong. And the realization hit me so hard that I actually cried. I cried because I was so happy that everything I thought was wrong. I cried because I was so relieved that there are people fighting for people who can’t fight themselves. I cried because my faith in humanity was restored.

There are so many people who care. There are lawyers running to JFK to help people who have been detained. There are cab drivers refusing to do airport runs as a way to protest the ban. There are people donating to organisations that want to make a difference in the lives of people who have nothing left. There are hundreds of thousands of people talking about this ban and protesting it.

I can’t explain how I feel in words. It is beautiful and wholesome and gratifying and amazing and overwhelming and heartwarming and just perfect. And I am so thankful that these are the people who are winning. The kind people, the good people, the people who don’t care about what religion you follow, or don’t. The people who will help others, without expecting anything in return, the people who don’t stand and watch as injustice wins. These are the people that matter. These are the people that are important.

Pay no attention to the ugly people, the ones who think having lighter skin makes them superior to others. The ones who think that keeping people out of a country that they invaded and colonized will do anything to combat terrorism. The people who don’t care about those who have nothing, who fight for their lives every single day, and who just want a better life. Fight them and show them that they are wrong, and that they cannot win.

Featured Image: Stephanie Keith, Getty Images

Links

Donate to the ACLU

Read these if you feel like you are losing hope:

(Read the whole thread and look at the amazing art)

 

 

Things I Learned in 2016

Things I Learned in 2016

2016 was a crazy year. It was mostly been a shitshow, but there were a few good moments. I think, for me personally, it was a roller-coaster of a year. I feel like it was the year of realizations. I learned so many things about myself and other people and throughout the year I tried to come to terms with these realizations. So here’s some of the things I learned in 2016. Last year was one of the hardest, but I have also learned the most from it.

 

Family Is Important.

I am aware that this is a weird realization to have when you’re 22 years old, but I feel like this year is when I finally accepted and embraced my family. Not my immediate family, because they were always important to me, but my extended family. I spent most of my life thinking that friends are better because you can choose friends, while you’re just stuck with family. But for me, my friendships have always been difficult. It feels like I am constantly putting maximum effort and and my friends don’t return even a fraction of it back. I strongly believe that friendship is a two way street, but when it comes to my friends, it has always been a one way road. This year I finally realized that I don’t owe them anything, and I learned to distance myself from them. I haven’t completely cut them off, but I have realized that there are people in my life who will put in effort and won’t make me feel like I’m the only person trying. My cousins, who I have never been that close to, and I have spending a lot of time together, and it has been great. There is just something special about family – they will always understand what you are going through, and for the most part, they are very similar to you. For me especially, it has been amazing to hang out with my cousins because they all believe in God, like me. All my friends are atheists and while most of them don’t judge me for believing in God, some of them do, and all of them just don’t understand my faith. It has been nice to spend time with people who not only understand it, but who I can openly talk about it to.

 

It’s OK To Take Your Time.

Understanding this has been very hard for me, and there are some days even now where I don’t believe it. But it is true. I spent so much time this year stressing about the fact that I still didn’t have a job even though I was done with college. Almost everyone I know who graduated found jobs in a matter of weeks. I am still struggling. This is mostly because I have applied to a very few places, because I have been trying to find places that will be somewhat manageable, despite my anxiety. It has been very hard, but I have decided that it doesn’t matter. I would rather take longer to find a job than find one that doesn’t suit me and then spend the rest of my days being miserable. It has been very hard to be OK with this, especially since the first question people ask me is, “so what are you doing now?”. I have dealt with judgement, pity and in some cases, disgust. Some days it hurts, but I keep telling myself that I am the one who knows what is best for me, and that all of the people who want to know what I am doing with my life don’t know the daily struggles I go through because of my mental illnesses. So I have realized that while I may be going at a slower pace than everyone else, at least I know that I am doing what is best for me, and that is what is most important.

 

Cutting People Off Is Not Easy, And Can Be Impossible.

I wish this wasn’t true, but it is. Everyone tells you to cut the toxic people out of your life, because being around them is unhealthy. This sounds like the best thing to do; it is actually, but the thing is, it isn’t realistic. Especially since, in most cases, someone is toxic only to you and not everyone else. So cutting someone off when you belong to the same friend group, for example, is basically impossible. It puts all of your other friends in an awkward situation, and ultimately you probably won’t be left with anyone. There is someone in my friend group I should cut off, but I can’t do it because she is friends with all of my other friends. Also, no one else thinks she is toxic, so they would probably rather just cut me off completely. This has been extremely hard for me – knowing that someone being in my life is bad for me, but knowing I can do nothing about it. But I guess it is a life lesson as well – no matter what all the articles and self help books tell you, you can’t pick and choose every person in your life. Sometimes you just have to deal with people even if you don’t want to.

 

Money Is A Very Tricky Thing.

Years later, I have finally realized that almost all of my friends took advantage of my financially. It took me way too long to come to this realization. I think I just didn’t want to believe it, but it was true. My friends were (and still are) happy to sit back while I paid/pay for everything, and then they came to expect it and barely paid for anything. One of my friends in particular is the worst at this, and it came to a point where I had to stop hanging out with her for a few months because whenever we spent time together, I am the only one who paid. She never paid for cabs, and when we were splitting bills she would always pay less than she was supposed to. I would understand completely if she had financial difficulties. But she always had enough and more money when it came to buying things for her boyfriend and one of her other friends. So when she spent so much money on them, it became hard for me to turn a blind eye, and I had to take a moment to just be away from her. Things haven’t changed even now, but now I just take the minimum amount of money I will need when we go out, because that way she can’t expect anything for me. This isn’t something that I have been able to deal with very well. It actually makes me really angry just writing about it. But I think I am just mostly angry at myself because it took me way too long to realize what was actually happening.

 

You Can’t Help People If They Don’t Want To Be Helped.

This has been one of the hardest things to come to terms with, but I had to accept it because it was too emotionally exhausting. My best friend is currently miserable at her job, but she is being forced to do it by her mother, as the money she earns supports the whole family. Every time I see my friend, she talks about quitting and she looks through possible other jobs or university courses she can do. But then she goes home and tells her mum, who guilt trips her and forces her to just stick with the job. My friend is so depressed and she’s constantly in a daze and she doesn’t know what is happening half the time. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that her family doesn’t see the change in her, because seeing her like this is heartbreaking. But no matter how hard I tried to talk her into quitting, there’s no point because she will never be able to do it. So now I have decided that all I can do is be there for her – any decisions she makes or realizations she has, she needs to do it on her own. Another one of my friends is in an abusive relationship, and me and all of my other friends have tried everything we can do to try and get her to see sense. But she hasn’t and I know she probably never will. So with her too, I am just trying to be there for her and let her learn everything else for herself.

 

It Gets Better (I Promise).

This is the most important thing I have ever realized in my whole life. Getting here wasn’t easy though. I spent years of my life thinking that I would be miserable and depressed forever, and nothing would change. But with help from God, my therapist and myself, I have gotten to a point where I don’t want to kill myself anymore, and I have hope that things will be OK. This was probably one of the most difficult “journeys” of my life. My depression hasn’t disappeared completely, but it is manageable and now I know that recovery is possible. If there’s anyone out there who’s going through anything difficult, or horrible, and you think that it will never get better, I’m here to tell you that’s not true at all. It might take weeks, months, years, but it WILL be OK. I promise. Just hang in there, and have faith ❤

 

So there’s my list. It is quite personal and probably a little all over the place, because I’m just writing my thoughts as they come. Hopefully it made some sense and someone learned something from it. Here’s to the new year ❤

 

Currently

Reading: Check out my GoodReads widget. I just finished the Throne of Glass books and I am having a terrible hangover.

Watching: Planet Earth II (so good!!!) and rewatching the DCEU movies 😛

Playing: Skyrim Remaster and Pokemon Go (it’s finally available in my country).