Kamis, 16 Januari 2014

Asia in London; a day trip to the Far East and a taste of home.

I always pick Glasgow over London and state how much I hate London, while deep inside I have to admit that London has those little big things Glasgow doesn’t. I was not ready to see Asia laid off in front of my nose . . . in London.

Like London’s subway that I really love. Glasgow’s subway runs in a circular track, nothing like London’s spider web underground system. Or the number of theatres in London and my love for performing arts that makes it another +1 for London. Glasgow has theatres too, but London’s Piccadilly district and its theatres is just so gorgeous (apart from the fact that it is almost always packed by tourists). So I have to admit that Glasgow has the miniature of the things I like in London, and as we know that miniatures are like the sample version of the real thing.

But what I cannot accept is the fact that I love London’s Chinatown and having to find Glasgow’s Chinatown is nothing like its sample version. I mean it is huge and pretty. It has everything you can think of about Asia, from chopsticks with fine ornaments to the best baozi steamed buns in the United Kingdom. Asia is just a step off your tube carriage in London’s Leicester Square underground station in the Piccadilly line.

Standing in the streets of London’s Chinatown, I’ve felt like I’m in the Far East with Chinese writings on shop windows and red lantern ornaments hung up above my head. I came back to Glasgow with a heavier bag filled by stuffs I’ve bought in London’s Chinatown  and a growing pride of my Asian roots.

These are the top 5 things I’ve found in London’s Chinatown:

1. Chinese buffet restaurants with more than just mediocre Chinese buffet dishes
Exceptional buffet-class dishes really! Unlike those with soggy wonton pastries in most buffet restaurants.
£ 9.95 for lunch

2. Bakeries
Not just bakeries, they’re the ones that suits my Asian palate with red bean paste bread and super soft chiffon rolls or experimental peanut crusted breads. I like French bakeries, but its Asian sisters are just so irresistible.
£ 1 – 2.50 each

3. Asian kitchen shops
Not just an Asian grocery shop, it’s the shop that sells beautiful Japanese bowls and chopsticks with pretty ornaments on it. They’ve got most of their pretty bowls and teacups imported from the Far East, authentic pieces!
£ 6.95 for a Japanese rice bowl
£ 2.50 for a pair of decorated chopsticks

4. Asian snacks
From authentic Japanese mochi, Indonesian sukro peanuts to Chinese milk candies: diet what? I’ve also found Asian street foods like Taiwanese bubble tea and Chinese baozi steamed bun, the best in England ever.
£ 1.20 for a red bean baozi bun
£ 3.65 for a glass of Taiwanese bubble tea

5. A taste of home
I am an Asian. I am an Indonesian. I’ve found a piece of home.
£ 6.00 nasi gudeg at Warung Indonesia

I cannot believe it, 3 years living in the United Kingdom and I have just found this place a week ago. I am ashamed of the Asian I have became to miss the elephant in front of my nose (P.S. that’s an Indonesian phrase I’ve used J).

Chinatown, London, December 2013
Canon EOS 60D
Canon EF-S 14-22mm
128 mm UV

Irassaimase (welcome in English) written in Hiragana stuck on the window, 
and the warm wooden structure indeed welcomed me to take a peek at the busy Japanese restaurant.
Most of the restaurants in the Chinatown are just as inviting as this one,
ranging from Chinese buffets, Dim Sum stalls to Korean grills.

Red Lantern
Chinatown, London, December 2013
Canon EOS 60D
Canon EF-S 14-22mm
128 mm UV

A red lantern hund on the sky in the middle on the main street of the Chinatown district.
As I've made my way through the bustling streets,
I've looked up the sky just to be thrown away to the far-flung Hongkong in a short glance.

The Alley
Chinatown, London, December 2013
Canon EOS 60D
Canon EF-S 14-22mm
128 mm UV

The smaller alleyways are packed with oriental shops and food stalls.
You can almost find Far East curiousities in these shops from Chinese golden cats, 
silk cheongsams to lacquered chopsticks,
with a hint of aromatic duck aroma lingering around you from takeaway food stalls nearby.

Selasa, 14 Januari 2014

Walking Down the Path; a new year's note, not a resolution.

Sometime you just have to go back down the road. Retrace your footsteps, see things in a different light, and maybe understand a bit more about who you are now. I travelled back to London and spent my winter break there instead of going home. 

London glimmered in Christmas lights and the air was so much colder than I remembered. My memories were rewinded and I've found new corners in the city that I thought I've known before as I piece the stories of how I become how I become who I am now. How much I love the city for the lively air, and how I have never wanted to stay. To me London is like sugar in my cuppa, for a teaspoon is just about enough before it turns bitter.

This film is about my Christmas and New Year’s Eve in London and the paths I've walked down in 2013 as I've counted down to 2014. The rough times (leaving Devon was bitter!) and the sweet times (finally graduated from college and walked down the Inca trail!). This was never an easy path to walk down as things went wrong a hundred times this year, and at the same time good things kept coming down my way. 

Rugged, beaten down, and bruised, you are the ones to decide whether to stop moving forward or keep walking. To choose the path with a clear destination, or to make your own way to an unknown destination. The path still goes on, and I have no intention to ever stop. Which path will I (and you!) walk down this year?

A happy new year for us all :)

Sabtu, 12 Oktober 2013

Indonesian, Football and Food.

I was not feeling homesick or anything at all. I just want to eat an Indonesian dish. Just any Indonesian food. So I woke up at 12 today and just realised that Indonesia will be playing against South Korea now, on Indonesian time. So I rushed to my laptop to watch the game. This was a pain in the ass, literally.

The first 10 minutes of my internet streaming is super smooth, but then the connection went wonky. Luckily the connection was smooth when Indonesia made its first goal and I jumped and screamed like mad, just before the connection went down and what should be a celebration moment turned into an awkward silence between me and the grainy laptop screen. The connection went down until like the first half of the game, and I missed South Korean's penalty kick that turned the game to an awkward balance right after Indonesian's goal celebration. Thanks to Twitter and Livescore, I can follow up with every single detail of the game that I've missed.

So I decided to cook an Indonesian vegetable soup and tempe (soybean cake stuff, super awesome) with rice to complete my truly Indonesian experience. I was struggling for both getting a smooth internet connection and to fix up my lunch. I've never known that cooking is THIS hard. I swear I'll eat everything my mum cook for me next time I'm home. Apparently cooking is harder than doing 10 Sociology essays to me. It was messy and I've burnt my finger, but it was worth it. My food tastes like home, and my internet connection went back just in time to catch the last quarter of the game.

I've watched the rest of the game to see Indonesia defeated South Korea, 2-3. I hope it'll be the beginning for Indonesian Under 19 team to repeat its glory in 1961, the last time they've won the Asian Under 19 Cup. 

I'm laying on my bed while sipping my Indonesian veggie soup and seeing my national team won the match. Indonesians are always proud of their national football team and Indonesians love good food. Our football team may not always be the best, and our food may not be as posh as French gourmet food, but our football team and food is our identity. This is the happiest state an Indonesian can be when they're not in their motherland.

My Indonesian veggie soup and tempe, tastes like home.

The painful buffer, just . . . painful.

Senin, 30 September 2013

Coping with University Life; It's a Trap, Don't Ever Go to University.

I've just moved to my own place in Glasgow and it is nerve racking, literally, and today is my first day as a university student. This just added the pain and suffering of my first week settling in my new place. The hassle of moving to a new place and being a fresher is just kind of overwhelming, I hope I'll settle down well soon.

Unpacking my stuffs. This part was fun, it's like opening christmas present!

My new place is perfect, I just have to make it home by adding stuffs and filling up my refrigerator with food. Proper food, not instant microwave food if it's not too much to ask. I also have to plan my monthly finance, which is also nerve racking as I have to basically start all over as I'm living in a completely new place. This financial planning also comes along with the 'Monthly Shopping List' routine (cupboard foods, toilet paper etc.) in addition to the 'Essentials Shopping List' (broom, trash bag, laundry basket etc. Seriously? I've never thought of these stuffs as I've never live alone in a new place before!). This 'Essentials Shopping List' is just mad, like who thought I'll ever need a broom until I can feel the food crumbs under my feet. Eeew, i need to get a broom ASAP. The 'Monthly Shopping List' in the other hand is pretty cool for me as I like shopping for food and am obsessed with filling up the food cupboard.

My first day at university is pretty exhausting as I have to move around the HUGE university area to get to my classes. I must admit that I need a map and Google Maps to get around, which makes me look ridiculous walking with a phone stuck on my nose, and still I was still late for my classes. I'm blaming it on the size of the university, my classes were all over the place and I don't know my way around at all!

I am already missing 2 weeks of lecture, so I am missing quite a lot. I have to catch up and I just hate this. Plus, I know no one on my classes while everyone else's already having friends. Perfect. If only I could get my visa on time I wouldn't miss the Fresher's Week and my first classes. My classes today were mad as I don't know anything at all and I don't have the necessary books yet. I have also missed homework and assignment things. This makes me like 2 million light years behind my classmates. Yes, perfect.

I have also do freshers stuff like buying new books, registering myself and meeting my Advisors. This includes standing in ridiculously long queues and being on time for my appointments. Plus, I have to do this in different places which means it takes me ages to find the right buildings. Thank god people invented Google Maps!

However, the university is just so pretty I would trade all the pain of settling in my new home and study routine with the uni's gorgeous old buildings. The university is like 550 years old with all the old Harry Potter looking buildings (and yes my university is a Harry Potter set!) and I absolutely love the look of this place. My academic sense is just so heightened by being in one of these old buildings! 

. . . Okay, I'm still that struggling university student.

The Main University Building.

On the evening I tried to cook myself dinner. I succeeded in my first attempt to cook black pepper veggies rice bowl. It was messy, I've spilled millions of unknown substances on my worktop but my food was superb! If you happen to drop by my place I'll cook you stuffs! Oh yes, I'm very proud of my cooking skills as a student and being good enough to be able to not eat microwave foods.

Eat fresh! This is a rare case for students . . .

My black pepper veggie rice bowl. I'm super proud.

And yes, I'm a proud student for being able to survive my first day as university student stress. University is seriously a trap, don't go to university unless you want to feel the satisfaction of being able to survive all this ****. I deserve the good meal and the proud feeling of being a student of one of the most respectable institutions in the world and surviving the day.

My student ID and my assignment PDF. Yes I'm happy with where I am now :)

Minggu, 01 September 2013

Peru Trip Trailer

I’m super thrilled to finally make and (hopefully very soon) upload my new film and post in my blog. I’ve been travelling quite a lot lately and I have less time to edit my films, as I was super busy taking care of my university stuff at the same time. After all these struggle with my exam and university application, it’s official: I’m going to Glasgow University this September, woo hoo!

I’m super psyched about taking classes in the Glasgow University’s old buildings, it’s going to feel like being thrown to Hogwarts or something. Living in Scotland will guarantee me an access to the breathtaking Scottish landscape (Skye Islands and Callanish Stones in my bucket list, defo!). I’m a big fan of Disney’s Brave, and living in a close proximity of castles and glens will make me super happy.

Apart from the superb news about me moving further up to the colds, I have a bad news. My passport is being held by the UK embassy for at least another 3 weeks because of the delay in my visa application process, which means that I will miss my fresher’s week, college orientation and first classes of the term, AND I also have to cancel my South East Asian cruise plan because of my current no-passport-state.

Meanwhile, enjoy the teaser trailer for my film about my trip to Peru with National Geographic Student Expeditions this summer. The film is going to be uploaded very soon.

Hasta pronto!

(P. S. been learning Spanish lately!)

Minggu, 05 Mei 2013

South Australian Adventures

See Australia beyond the bustling Sydney or Melbourne and capture Australia's beauty through a different angle. Try visiting South Australia for a different taste of Australia. From adrenalin pumping activities like surfing to enjoying the gorgeous landscape and wildlife, South Australia has it all. Have an adventure of a lifetime in South Australia. Watch the new episodes of the #DownUnderDiaries about South Australia's 4 must-visit regions.

#DownUnderDiaries - South Australia (English)

#DownUnderDiaries - South Australia (Indonesian)

The shortlist stage of Australia's #BestJobs is ending soon, keep supporting me to be Australia's next Wildlife Caretaker! Mention me on Twitter @zahraamalias using the #DownUnderDiaries hashtag for information about South Australia and don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more episodes of the #DownUnderDiaries.

Selasa, 30 April 2013

#BestJobs Shortlisted Wildlife Caretaker

Pemerintah Australia membuat event 'Best Jobs In the World', dimana mereka bakal merekrut 6 orang dari ratusan ribu pendaftar di seluruh dunia untuk bekerja di Australian Tourism Board. Aku satu-satunya peserta dari Indonesia yang lolos ke babak shortlist 150 besar dari 200.000 pendaftar di seluruh dunia. Aku ada di 25 besar kandidat Wildlife Caretaker dari 45.000 pendaftar di kategori itu.

Aku harus cari endoresement dari publik tentang kenapa aku orang yang paling tepat untuk jadi Wildlife Caretaker. Aku bakal sering upload video series #DownUnderDiaries tentang Australian Wildlife, travels dan trivia. Support aku buat jadi 3 besar wildlife caretaker dengan cara comment di video aku dan di Twitter. Subscribe di channel YouTube aku untuk nonton episode terbaru #DownUnderDiaries dan mention aku di Twitter @zahraamalias dengan hashtag #DownUnderDiaries buat tanya-tanya tentang Australia, terutama Australian wildlife.

Ini episode terbaru #DownUnderDiaries tentang Kangaroo Island, sebuah pulau di Australia Selatan dengan alam liar dan lanskap yang oke banget. Kangaroo Island dikenal sebagai 'kebun binatang tanpa pagar' karena pengunjung bisa berinteraksi langsung dengan binatang-binatang liar di pulau itu. Di video ini aku bakal cerita tentang Kangaroo Island di Australia Selatan, dan aku bakal bilang kenapa kalian harus banget ke sini!

Stay tune for the next episode of #DownUnderDiaries and don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel!