From 2012 to 2013 + Belgium

This is gonna be a mash-up of my accumulated posts –  birthday, new year and Belgium trip….just because I’m lazy and it’s easier this way heheh.

Reflection on 2012

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2012 has been an eventful year for me. It started off with the January exams for Semester 1 of course and a day trip to Chester after that as a break. The adrenaline of design project kicked in immediately when Sem 2 began and pushed me all the way through May, having  a little escape with the wise friends (XD) to Wales during Easter. I had 2 papers for exams in June and celebrated my first step in the Scandinavian countries which I have been dreaming about as a young kid. I saw fjords and waterfalls and penguins, ate the best salmon and scallops ever. During summer at home, I got closer to some old friends and had loads of fun in the many outings. I finally flew in the turboprop Fokker plane to Mulu and stood in the renowned huge cave chamber. I enjoyed fully the warmth at home of waking up to a bustling kitchen with breakfast laid, chatting with my mum at night, playing badminton in the living room with dad or staring games with the dog-next-door. In autumn, I shared the sorrow and horror of victims at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland and marveled at a church carved out of salt underground. Dissertation and individual courseworks took over my attention until December came. I had amazing view of the Swiss Alps at 2970 m and crashed endlessly into the snow walls while tobogganing down the slopes. I spent Christmas with friends close at heart and wrote my personal record high number of Christmas cards presumably. I turned 22, 2 days before 2012 ends.

Biggest thanks to God for bringing me through the year even though I have been lacking in so many areas in life. I have succeeded in challenges, faltered in some. But what’s important is being a student and not a victim in times of failures and adversities, learning what God wants me to learn and experiencing His grace, realizing tribulations are not meant to weaken us but to strengthen us. Therefore we must look beyond the sufferings in trials and seek God’s words to heed wise advice. Quoting Ray Pritchard, it is natural for human to have a whole bag of negative emotions when life tumbles in around us; but the Holy Spirit can make it possible for us to have the supernatural reaction of finding joy in hardship. So friends, wishing you a meaningful year in the remaining 362 days!

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Turning 22nd

Woke up at 7a.m. desiring to go find a spot to watch sunrise outside but the raindrops started splattering on my window the moment I leaned towards it. So I had a lazy morning listening to music while baking profiteroles (fresh hot plain puff pastry out of the oven is soooo good!). Finally checked out the paper-cutting exhibition at the Art Gallery which I jolted down in my notebook since the beginning of the semester. It is amazing how people have the creativity and patience to make all those art works out of paper! Shall have a go at simple projects myself perhaps when I’m free one day haha. Refunded my unused thermal legging which I survived without in Switzerland yay, and got myself a new little satchel bag at only 4 pounds. Don’t I just love Primark.

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Cutting the cake! :)

Dinner was at Try Thai with friends, whom I suspect are trying to fatten me. So, so stuffed after all the Thai food and two pieces of cakes! Thanks for baking the yummy cake tsetui! Love it! Then my enormous present bag appeared…a Lego set of a winter house etc! ♥ Thanks so much guys! I’ve only completed Part 1/3 and got very fascinated by the little details already haha. I totally love the card and all your messages too!

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So as every other recent year, my birthday came and left in subtlety, hopefully so silently that the age change goes unnoticed too.

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In Belgium

Cheap tickets was the first motivation behind this whole trip, which I went on with Loohzhen, Mel (our 1st trip together! :D) and Sengtuck. The 6.25am flight to Brussels had us all heading to the airport with almost zero sleep at 4am. By the time we reached our hotel in Brussels, I have had 2 good naps on the plane and the bus from airport.

Lunch was our first stop in the city after checking in. We settled with a decent-looking cozy restaurant not far away from our hotel and the metro station we depart from for Atomium.

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My medium-rare steak.

The view of the Atomium is not exactly that nice as you walk from the metro station through the car park but it is much much better from the other side. We bought tickets for the Atomium visit since Mini Europe is closed at this time of the year and there is nothing much else to see. I have to say that the exhibition inside is really rather random – the price I paid is more like for checking out the structure within and taking in some aerial views from up there.

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Entrance at Atomium.

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As we approach the metro platform later on, we realized the train was there and thus started running. I was the first one aboard and the instant I hopped on, the doors closed and within seconds the train left, leaving my friends with the :O faces at the platform. I spent a little time debating my actions before finally getting off at the 3rd stop and waited for the next train so I could reconcile with them. It turned out they made a bet whether I would get off at the 1st stop or 2nd stop and deciding that I must be taking it all the way to our destined stop when I was not in sight. And surprise! There I was at the 3rd stop hahah.

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Night time in Brussels was freezing cold. We made our stop at the Brussels Meeting Centre gardens with the special colour lights before eating at Le Grand Bi, a restaurant just off the main shopping street. The food was quite good and reasonably priced at 12 euros for a 3-course meal plus free drinks as promised by the staff. We had 165 mussels (yes we counted!) in total. Oh yuuuums.

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Fish fillet and chips.

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Mussels in Brussels! Awesomeness.

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Dropped by a few chocolate shops at the Grand Place and then the Manniken Pis before making our way back. The Manniken Pis really is very small, no wonder everyone just take pics with the gigantic one at the waffle shop 3m away. X)

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Fine chocolates in the shops.

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Waffles with SO MUCH cream. D: D:

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The so small peeing boy.

The 2nd day was a day trip to Brugge ‘Venice of the North’, 55 mins by train from Brussels Zuid/Midi. We had a good run at the train station when the fast food chain ‘QUICK’ was not as quick as its name says in preparing the food. Because of a little burger, we were running from the restaurant to our platform, earning much stares around in the station I assume.

We were appalled at the white snowstorm like window view as we traveled to Brugge. It was indeed absolutely cold there but thank God the town is small enough to walk around on foot, not taking too long and not requiring much map study. This little town is old with plenty of narrow cobbled alleys and two-storeys shops or houses paint-washed in fading colours. We subconsciously covered a couple of landmarks as we try to get to the market square.

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Snowing~

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Appetizer – Shrimp salad.

After lunch we took a different route along the canal to gradually head back to the station. The whole place is like a mini maze with hidden paths and unexpected courtyard or bridges. One moment you’re in a quiet lane between buildings with only distant sounds of cars; the next you find yourself back on a lively pavement where people scurry here and there.

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The second and last night was spent at a restaurant with the most super-friendly waiters ever who seem to have a lot of fun in their work. We ambitiously ordered 5 set menus for 4 of us and had a good feast, though our fish fillets were the saltiest fish ever. Tomatoes and salad leaves saved my taste buds. And mussels too! :)  That was what the 5th set menu is for –  Mussels!!

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At a canal in Brugges.

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Water tower at Minnewater Park.

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Escargots – my first time! :D Yum.

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Lamb chop!

5.30am the next morning we were making our way to catch our bus to the airport already. It is probably one of my shortest trips around but it was good nonetheless besides the frosty windy weather! Thanks for making it a pleasant trip friends! :D And it was nice to travel together with you mel, hope you enjoyed it too!

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