A post about Aix-les-Bains is something that I had contemplated a thousand times. Since when I google search Aix-les-Bains there was nothing much about it, not much write ups. I rehearsed in my memory what I will write that would land to be published in a travel magazine. Until days, weeks, months have passed and this dream remains a dream. Up until now. I let it go. Maybe it will happen one day. Maybe not. It doesn’t matter. Oppss, it does matter, of course!
I have a confession to make. I dream of having a post be featured in a travel magazine. Modesty aside I think I have talents in taking photographs (I only need to be discovered! hahaha) – especially when it comes to landscape. I am a fan myself :P. Though when it comes to writing I am still very elementary I think. I hope to be promoted to high school soon! :P. I dream of reaching a level where I can write a kind of prose and descriptions where I can bring my audience, our dear readers to make them feel that they’ve been to a place even if they have not been. It’ll probably take a looOng time to make it happen. I need mooOre practice or reach a thousand posts maybe before I could do that.
However, whatever, wherever: Aix-les-Bains is a dream come true. In fact, up until now my Aix-les-Bains photo remains intact in my facebook profile. To constantly remind me: that Dreams Do Come True. Even if you’re not conscious about your dreams :D. Living in Aix-les-Bains is a realization of a dream. It was my dream to live in a city where mountains and lakes are within reach. Aix-les-Bains did it. There were days I trek to a nearby mountain just to have a glimpse of the snow forming from a distant bigger mountain. I love looking at the different colors of leaves of trees during autumn. It’s just lovely. Everyday I cycle to Lake du Bourget and watch the ducks and swans quietly swimming in the lake. I would sit in the bench and would – people watch :). I gaze at the boatmen anchoring their boats from the other side of the lake. I listen to the sound of my foreign surrounding who wholeheartedly welcome and accepted me without reservation. My soul is at peace. I am at rest. Any worries just fade away. The sight of the breathtaking surrounding would eventually dissolve my homesickness.
One day on my trek to the mountain, I met a woman. Perhaps in her 60s as she’s a retiree who worked in Geneva. She hardly speaks English so we speak in French, I managed to speak to her in my broken French. I learned she decided to go back to Aix-les-Bains and sold her flat in Geneva because she prefers the quiet peaceful life in Aix-les-Bains. So her routine everyday is to walk with her dog. And just enjoy life. Make small travel when money and time allows her.
Aix-les-Bains is a commune, a city in Savoie, Rhone Alpes Region in the south-east of France.Aix-les-Bains is known for its thermal spa. ‘Aix’ comes from a Latin word which literally means ‘water’. There are also few casinos in Aix-les-Bains. The city to me looks like a resemblance of Paris. Except Aix-les-Bains is definitely cleaner. I could see that Aix-les-Bains is not a backpacker’s hub. It’s a little bit pricey. I didn’t see any guesthouse or hostel. Some visiting tourists I have bumped in were from Annecy or Grenoble.
How did I know about Aix-les-Bains? I didn’t even know there is such that exist in France. I thought it was just a coincidence when my host in Epernay for WWOOFing I did not hear eventually. And a fellow Japanese American WWOOFer from the Chateu de Sacy shared with me a link of the possibility of doing some work while traveling. That’s where I found Aix-les-Bains. Yet, who on Earth would choose me to be an English tutor to a college boy when in fact I am not even a native English speaker!? Just my two cents, perhaps it’s the way I build rapport that makes people easily trust me.
I remember I was on a flight bound to Athens from Singapore where we had an 8-hour stop over in Doha. I had chance to befriend the lady sitting to my left. She was from Perth going to Barcelona. We were both chatty and for the entire flight we hardly slept. There were always a lot to talk about. We were like old friends who have not seen for a long time and needs a lot of catching up! I never forget what Kate told me: “Mafey you have this kind of gift that enables you to connect to people easily. You have a very strong positive energy. I can feel it. I am a massage therapist so I a can tell. Cultivate it. It’ll bring you more success!” In my mind, I told her, are you really a massage therapist? Not a fortune teller? Hahaha. That joke doesn’t seem fitting. Thank you that my lips can be zip right away when the invisible scanner would warn – it isn’t appropriate to the situation. She was serious and I felt her ingenuity when she said it. I was quiet for a moment. Trying to absorb fully what she just said. Then I responded, Kate, thank you for telling me these things. I will never forget it. The flight attendant would join the conversation from time to time and would give us a lot of food. She was very friendly and accommodating and before we landed she asked us to evaluate her service to us – handed the form and gave her full name, another chatty lady from Hungary :P.
More or less, I write the way I talk. Once I start it flows free-stylish. Then, I would find myself getting off from the topic. When the only message I am attempting to convey is that I became an English tutor not because I speak nor write English excellently but because they find me trustworthy and easy to connect with I think.
While living, working and traveling for a rather short period in Aix-les-Bains is a Dream Come True; I keep Dreaming for a Grandeur One – to have a post that would appear in a travel magazine or maybe in the official magazine of some high end airlines :). Am I too ambitious? Hihi. While things may appear a bit blurry as I am not satisfied with the effort I am doing and the time I am devoting for my inconspicuous blog, inside me is a thin piece of certainty that I am walking towards my goal – not just to live in some of my ideal dream places nor to have a post be published in a travel magazine. The key motivation that fires me to keep a sort of electronic documentation of my travel adventures, other than to serve as a depository of memoirs to share with the public some informative travel related information; aside from an attempt to entertain and post some beautiful landscapes; a relentless practice to write well and discover whatever style of writing I have and how can I improve — the end goal — which is just the beginning — I wish to share plainly — the deap-seated aspiration — is to become a published author.
I have no idea yet how it will happen. I just figured that maybe in future I will take some formal course related to writing and read more about famous people who have done this and that.
I do not think I am weaving a new trail, I imagine walking towards a path where every individual-alike ahead of me has passed this way.
Then, I wake up and realized I was dreaming, dreaming about my dreams :)). Oh, I wake up slightly late for my new work!
Thanks for keeping me company my dear readers. I am on a new phase again and trying to find out where to fit in with my new schedule and routine – the time I have to set aside for blogging. There are so many things I want to write, so many thoughts just comes and slips in a matter of seconds which I forget easily when I didn’t write or journal it. Imagine, I wrote this post 2 weeks ago!
Thanks for being here! Till my next post!
There are soO many things I have to be thankful for. One of this is what I am doing at this very moment – to finally find the time to write down my thoughts and share what is happening lately. Happy I can visit my blog again given my busy schedule and new routine – Am still on the look eyeing for a 100-post before this year ends :-). So thank you for your patience and continued support for the times I had not been visible.
Joining a fun run has been quite part of my lifestyle. Doing it for a cause may seem a little more noble. But these are small things shall I count the blessing that keeps pouring in of late: my miraculous (Lost&Found) phone; a congratulatory card from the Headhunter who recruited me to where I am currently at (plus 1-year free movie pass – I have to get used to watching movies :)); an MOM letter sending my new working pass; a wedding invitation at Sentosa Cove from a new colleague; postcards from traveling friends….Yes, I love receiving post cards as much as I love sending and writing postcards for my family and friends every time am on the road. And for being able to go for a 3-week vacation visiting Hong Kong & Macau and going back home seeing my family and friends before returning to work again!!
On a serious note, I unreservedly felt the need to rest my heart. Full stop.
So last Sunday, I tried to ignore my sleepiness and put my alarm to 5.45am to run for the 5km and 10km Fun Run organized by the Gawad Kalinga or GK Singapore – where proceeds will go for typhoon Haiyan victims. Followed by about 3 km walk from East Coast Lagoon to Parkway Parade after feasting ourselves with heavy brunch. Then I cycled in the evening! I managed to get to work the next day. Early despite the pains of my thighs that caused me to walk like a handicap. I should go for a massage this weekend!
Friends, should you wish to receive a post card from me – you may send your message privately and I will send you soon! This is my little way of saying thanks
Here are some of the photos of the Fun Run Marathon I’ve participated for the last 3 years. The snaps are from Vincent Martin, Ms Fatima Soriano and Mr Or Ah Seng – thank you.
I hope to run for 1 more post today! Please stay tune!
This is a story of integrity at its best. I lost my phone last weekend. The funny thing was I have no idea I lost it until I got home. I have to call a colleague for our company’s event that day and I couldn’t find my phone! I just realized I lost it somewhere! Things flashed back in my memory as fast as it can as if scanning where I could have possibly lost it. I hurried back to few places I’ve been – mall, shops, super market…yes, I know I am more or less certain I left it in a mall at the toilet! As expected it wasn’t there. I am very nervous – if ever I would not have it back, I just want to get my sim, my contacts – for all I care I could get a new phone. I found myself asking strangers to dial my number, thank heaven it was ringing! I was surprised to hear a reassuring voice from the other side giving me direction to go up to level 3 and approach the Customer Service. I felt instantly relieved! The friendly Malay Officers asked me to dial my number, am so happy to hear my phone under their care :-D. I asked them if they know the person and the contact of the person who have found my phone. I quickly dial the number and at the other line, I’ve heard a soft voice of a young woman I’ve known as –
Ms Johanna Lee from 45 Cheviot Hill.
I briefly introduced myself and told her I sincerely appreciate that she found and handed my phone to the Customer Service. At the very least, I didn’t have the slightest idea I would have it back. I sincerely thanked her from the bottom of my heart!
I sent her home a personalized Thank You card, a little gesture, I know I would never have repaid her act of kindness. It would have been a different story if I lost it somewhere else.
You know, what is amazing is I have almost lost my phone a few times this year:
1) January 2013. Sagada, Mountain Province, Philippines. After spelunking at Sumaging cave, we had a stop at one of the place where you can have a very scenic view of Bontoc Rice Terraces to take post card perfect photo. I had no idea my phone has slide from my pocket. I learned I lost it when I get back to the hostel. When we return to the jungle, thank goodness it’s still there!
2) August 2013, New Road GuestHouse, Bangkok, Thailand. I was already at the Hua Lamphong Station going to take the sleeper train for Vientiane when I realized I left it charging at the lobby of the guesthouse where I stayed. I asked the cab driver that we hurried back as fast as we can because I might not see my phone anymore, at the same time I might miss my train to Laos!
3) November 2013. Singapore. You just read a feel good story :-D. Isn’t it my lucky phone?? Or am I just lucky!? You decide!
Faces of nameless people seemed to be gathered together within the church vicinity and at the wet market. They were there for different reasons but for one purpose: to live.
Quiapo Church, Manila. I took this photo the day before I left Philippines from my recent visit. I never thought in a matter of days a super typhoon Yolanda would come and leave an unimaginable havoc to my fellow folks from the Visayas region.
In times like these, aside from in cash and in kind donations – prayers and words of encouragement are what we can extend best to them. While some remote areas are still impassable to bring in relief goods and medicines; while they will be needing the basics – food, shelter and clothing; in the long run I hope there will be groups or organizations who will give counseling, sort of spiritual guidance and support to help build the lives of my fellows get back together again.
The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity. -Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Do you continue the journey when the reason for doing so is no longer there?
It was a simple question that I asked myself a few times but I have had a hard time answering. Because I find it complicated. Because there was something going on inside myself that made it complicated. For some personal reason, I almost cancelled my trip. In the end, it was good (enough) that I pushed through.
I tried to be extremely cautious so I would be more finesse in expressing my thoughts and giving my opinion. I was happy though that I had chance to experience the local’s hospitality in spite of some nuances and annoying experiences I had.
Several friends were asking me: how are you liking Hong Kong? How did you find it? My answer is almost standard. “Am not sure if I like it. The city is beautiful in a chaotic way. I prefer and much enjoyed its suburbs.”
The beauty of a place to me does not merely involve its impressive building architecture and structural design nor the local food that I would devour to satisfy my cravings . I always include its people, how they behave in public, how they treat foreigners and tourists visiting their city. Giving an overall vibes is something innate to us human I think. I have to applaud Hong Kong has an excellent transport system and the Customer Service at the Tourist Information Centre at the airport is simply superb. Imagine traveling without doing any research to your place of destination nor had booked any accommodation and you are arriving at night. It can be a disaster. But no. The day I arrive everything was a breeze and it was really easy for me to find a place and where to stay. Thanks for the excellent service of the lady at the Tourist Information Centre! I had everything I need that made things easy for me.
Despite feeling the lowliness of my spirit as I mentioned I come close to canceling my trip as the viewed necessity becomes unnecessary. However, If I did that I wouldn’t be able to break the invisible wall and find out what caused rifts between Filipinos and Hong Kong people… I am not saying that I am making a difference but a little effort to reach out to them I think does make sense.
Meeting a few amazing locals whom I made friends with whom volunteered themselves to show me HK Off-the-beaten-path and kept my company while in HK; a great conversation with someone who does not share the same views as I am but I could give my utmost respect for some disturbing and intriguing way of life.
From this travel, I would like to draw two (2) posts from which a rough title in my head goes like this:
1) A Singaporean in Hong Kong. As my blog now is part of the national initiative for Singapore Memory Project, I wish to contribute a story about my encounter with a humble expat Singaporean who lives in Hong Kong; and
2) Hong Kong Off-The-Beaten-Path: An easy trek to Dragon’s Back Ridge. It was a beautiful experience of HK suburbs and a great time with a local who offer a different kind of living and who taught me and gave a spontaneous training about photography using DSLR its aperture, shatter, lighting, focus etc.
I wish to outline it here so it won’t slip in my memory. I have a target to reach 100-post before this year ends :). Might as well a good thing to write it here so I would be constantly reminded. Though, I find that keeping a blog while on the road is rather a more tedious task. I will be semi-settled again soon anyway.
Thanks for reading and for following!