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My COVID-19 Vaccination Experience @ IDCC Shah Alam

It has been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic first started raging across the world. In the initial stages, many countries implemented stringent lockdowns, but with economies teetering, it was not a viable, long term solution – which is why people are now putting all of their hopes on vaccines. The rollout in Malaysia has been slow but it’s gradually picking up. We still have a long way to go, but as for my fam and I, I’m thankful that we’ve been able to secure vaccination slots for AstraZeneca.

My dad was the first to get inoculated, and had his first dose last week. I had mine a couple of days ago at IDCC Shah Alam, a convention centre that has been turned into a vaccination facility.

Honestly, it was a little nerve-wracking because I haven’t had any sort of shot for over a decade (I think the last was for HPV, when I was 18 or 19), but I didn’t have to worry – the process was very fast and efficient.

Arriving at IDCC, we were directed by traffic personnel to the 6th floor of the building. Vaccinations are done on the 7th floor, and you can park at floors 4 to 6. If you’re taking Grab, there is a drop off point on the ground floor, where you can take a lift up. Parking is free.

Video (Although I barely had time to film anything because the entire process was so fast) :

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6.45PM: After scanning my temperature and checking in on the MySejahtera app, I followed the signs up the escalator to the 7th floor. There, ushers directed me to the first waiting area outside the hall. We sat for about 10 minutes, and once the area had filled up with people, staff members gave us two forms. There was a slip clipped to the top with a number and QR code.

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These are basically consent forms; Malay in front and English at the back. You only have to fill it in the language you prefer. There are two forms; one of which you will keep later. You can fill it in now if you want, but you can only sign in front of a witness; ie a doctor, when you’re inside the hall. Pens are provided, or you can bring your own.

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7PM: We were told to enter the hall, where there were many counters. I waited for my number to be called on screen, before proceeding to the relevant counter, where a staff asked for my IC and keyed in my details.

7.05PM: I made my way to the next section, where there were more counters, but these were manned by doctors. No numbers called here; simply waited until a table freed up. My doctor was a young lady who proceeded to ask me about my medical history and explain to me the vaccine I would be getting, ie AstraZeneca. After I acknowledged everything, I was told to sign the consent forms. She kept a copy while I held on to the other.

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7:10PM: It was then on to the waiting area for jabs. The jabs are done in sequestered booths for privacy, so you won’t be able to see other people getting their shots. An usher directed me to one of the booths, where my QR code was scanned to update my MySejahtera status to “Vaccinated”. The nurse showed me the syringe and confirmed that I was taking AstraZeneca before administering the shot. It took less than two minutes!

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7.15PM: Waited at another area for my number to be called. A staff gave me my vaccination card, which I will need to bring for my next appointment. Finally, I was told to wait for 15 minutes and report to them immediately if I felt ill or dizzy; after which I was free to go.

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I was pleasantly surprised at how efficient everything was; staff members were helpful and polite, there were clear signs everywhere, and the entire process was smooth. All in all, it took me less than an hour.

Of course, the procedure may differ from centre to centre, so you may have a different experience – but if you’re going to take your shot at IDCC, there’s nothing to worry about. I would suggest bringing a jacket because the air conditioning is super cold.

My second dose is in about 8 weeks time. Hopefully things will go as smoothly then as they did for the first dose!

Patreon?

Hey guys!

If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably noticed that I’m not very diligent when it comes to sharing personal posts or motivational (?) stuff like ‘Lessons I’ve learned from… etc.’  There are a few reasons for this:

A) It Takes A Buttload of Time 

Unlike lifestyle / food posts, which are based on experiences (ie, ‘tangible’ stuff  – you can write about how food tastes, how the service at a resto is like, what went on at an event, etc.) thoughts are much harder to present in a cohesive manner.  It usually takes, on average, a couple of days for me to write a ‘serious’ topic, as compared to a food post which I can bang out within an hour. Oftentimes, when I have a good idea, I run out of steam before it comes to fruition and I end up abandoning the whole thing lol. Also, despite being a writer, I am not the best when it comes to articulating what I feel or think. It’s like running Red Dead Redemption II on a potato graphics card.

True story

B) I Am My Own (Worst) Gatekeeper 

As a former newspaper journalist, self-censorship is almost second nature. Writing and rewriting, reading and rereading each sentence before it is deemed ‘fit’ for publication, is just something that I do unconsciously. But this also comes at a cost: I am often hyper-aware of how some words/ opinions may come off as ‘controversial’… so I avoid writing about them entirely.  I know it’s a shame because this is where discussion stems from, but I dislike conflict, and I feel it isn’t worth the trouble of potentially getting into a fight or getting ‘cancelled’ for my opinions. There are plenty of nasty, spiteful people out there on the net, and I don’t want to see my face Photoshopped over a naked body and uploaded to a porn site just coz someone isn’t happy about my opinions about the new Disney’s Mulan. @-@ There is also the possibility that I might write something a future employer deems offensive and controversial, which might affect my job prospects or other future projects.

C) Separating Content 

Most of the stuff on here relates to food/ travel and lifestyle, so it’s kinda odd that there are random personal posts in them. I want to try and separate the two, because I doubt anyone would be interested in reading about my struggles with anxiety and depression, when all they came on here to find out was how much a bowl of curry noodles from X restaurant costs.

D) Conflict Avoidance 

Perhaps the primary reason why I don’t do a lot of personal posts – is because I don’t want drama. My family reads my blog occasionally (my own fault coz I have them on my soc-med and I share my blog links there too), which has effectively prevented me from sharing too much about my personal life.

I don’t live in a perfect household. I believe every family has problems, and in no way am I saying I don’t love them or care for them. But there are times when I just want an outlet for release – or share my thoughts and connect to others with similar experiences – and I simply cannot do that by talking to them about it. Some might ask, “why are you airing dirty laundry?”, and “why is it easier for you to share things with strangers?” Because surprisingly, many strangers and friends DON’T judge, and even if they do, I don’t care as much, as compared to if it comes from someone close to me. I just want to say my piece, and be done with it. Does that make sense?

Case in point: I once wrote a personal story about my experience during a CNY reunion dinner. An uncle decided it was his place to tell me that “I had a pretty face, but it would be better if I lost some weight.” I didn’t want to cause a scene coz my parents were there, but I went home and wrote a scathing piece on my blog – which somehow went viral (because nosy, rude relatives are a fixture in every Chinese family and I’m sure a lot of people can relate). The BBC even contacted me to write a lifestyle piece for them on a somewhat related topic, which I think was the pinnacle(?) of my career as a writer lol.

But the result was that it somehow got back to the fam. That uncle has not spoken to me ever since, and my mom now uses this as arsenal whenever we have an argument and I say I don’t care (“oh but you do, you wrote that piece about uncle X, didn’t you?”)

See what I mean?

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing Patreon for some time now, because I’m writing stuff on this blog anyway – why not have a dedicated space for more personal topics? So I’ve decided that I’ll be putting up all my personal posts on Patreon. This way, I can write – no-holds barred – and really share my thoughts on things. Maybe I won’t have any readers – or the community interaction I enjoy here on WordPress –  but it will sure be a load off my chest, and I’ll have the freedom to write whatever I want.

I realise this must sound like a very poor pitch – I’ve never been good at sales pitches or asking people to do things – but if you like, please subscribe to my Patreon. I already have a couple of posts and good ideas lined up, and it would mean the world to me to earn a little from this otherwise expensive hobby (been blogging for eight years, never earned more than 400 USD). That comes up to about 50 USD a year, or around 10 cents a day. (If that isn’t the embodiment of the starving, melancholic writer stereotype, I don’t know what is.) But whether or not you’ve been following this blog for some time, or if you’re new, or just stumbled on this by accident, I just want to say a big thank you for spending your precious time to read whatever I have to say. Thank you, and I hope you continue to support this channel, and if you don’t like the content, let me know what I can improve on.

Til the next post!

 

Where To Get Royalty-Free Images for Your Blog / Website

As much as possible, I try to use my own images on this blog, because a) it sucks when people steal my photos without even crediting where they got them from, and b) I want to avoid potential copyright infringement suits because you never know when you might get ‘unlucky’. Just because it’s rampant practice, it doesn’t mean you’re safe coz ‘everyone else is doing it’.

But there are times when I am unable to get particular photos for my posts – and that’s where free stock photo sites come in. Some of these have stunning imagery, and cover a wide variety of subjects, from food and travel to lifestyle, so they make great resources for bloggers.

Here are a few that I use: 

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PIXABAY

There are over 1.7 million images on Pixabay, including photos, illustrations, vectors and even videos and music which you can use without attribution (although it is a nice gesture to include credits and linkbacks) for personal and commercial purposes. That isn’t to say that some copyrighted images don’t find their way to the site, but the company manually checks each submission to ensure that they adhere to the requirements as much as possible. To download photos in high-res, you will need to register as a user.

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PEXELS 

Another easy to navigate stock photo site is Pexels. which also has over 1 million photos free for commercial use. It has a ‘popular collections’ page which looks similar to a Pinterest board, and allows you to easily search according to keywords. There are some rules to photo usage, especially in regards to people as subjects in photos; for example, identifiable individuals may not appear in a way that is offensive, and they may not be used as an endorsement for a product. Sale of unaltered copies is also prohibited. You can download images without signing up for an account.

*Pixabay and Pexels are both owned by Canva.

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UNSPLASH 

Unsplash’s high-quality imagery is a popular choice for editorials; we also use them for the print magazine that I work at. Images are neatly sorted according to category (architecture, food, people, etc.) to make searching easier, and there are photos of current events from around the world as well. There are also search tools to help you search by type, based on the tone of the photo, as well as orientation (portrait, landscape).

TOURISM BODIES 

For travel content, national tourism organisations are a good bet for high-quality photos, and you definitely don’t have to worry about copyright strikes if you’ve credited them properly. I use all of these regularly for work. Tourism Malaysia has an online library of photos divided according to the different states and categories such as culture, food and events. Other tourism organisations that have good resources are Australia, New Zealand, Japan, (although it is quite troublesome as you have to individually fill up a form for every photo, and you have to wait for five minutes between photos to download imagery), Singapore and South Korea. The downside is that you often have to register accounts and some have waiting times / procedures that you’ll have to follow so that they can track what you’re using the photos for.

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FOODIES FEED 

Foodies Feed is an excellent resource for food bloggers, although the number of photos is rather limited (about 2,000). The imagery is high-end and will not look out of place as a front cover of a food magazine.

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS 

Photos from Wikimedia Commons are not always stunning, but they do the job of helping you to visually illustrate something on your blog posts. You are also more likely to find a photo of something more obscure (say, an off-the-beaten-path destination). Photos are easy to embed from the site itself, without having to download them. However, it can still be risky to use as I don’t think the photos are vetted properly, so there might still be copyright issues.

FREESTOCKS.ORG 

Freestocks.org is not as extensive as Pexels or Pixabay, but still offers a great selection of imagery in various categories, such as fashion, food and drinks, architecture, nature and people.

A list of some other sites, although I don’t use these very often:

Burst by Shopify 

Reshot – This site seems to have more ‘niche’ and unique images rather than generic pictures – almost like someone’s Instagram feed.

Styled Stock – If you’re looking for feminine-centric styled photos, this site offers plenty.

Life of Pix – shots by professional photographers, so you can be assured of editorial-worthy quality.

Gratisography – looking for photos that are out of the ordinary that will capture your audience’s attention? A bunny mascot dancing in the subway, for example? You can find it at this site.

 

 

What are some of the stock photo resources that you use? Share them in the comments below! 😉 

Happy Anniversary – 8 Years on WordPress

WordPress reminded me today that it has been eight years since I started blogging on this platform.

Eight, long years.

If you counted my time on Blogspot and Xanga (I started blogging in 2009), then it would be a whole decade.

8 years is a long time. I graduated from university and joined the work force eight years ago. Changed several jobs. Made new friends, dropped old ones. Battled depression and anxiety. Travelled. Loved. Lost. Had four relationships. (The funny thing is that none of them lasted as long as my blogging, lol).

I feel like I should be writing more since it’s a significant milestone and all (in my mind at least), but there really isn’t much to say. I’m not a person who writes super inspiring posts, nor am I a motivational writer of any kind. This blog is just me sharing my thoughts and things that interest me – it isn’t off the charts popular, I don’t earn money (I actually fork out money for it every year lol). I am continually surprised (and grateful) that some people actually read the stuff I write. I’ve made great friends through this platform, of which I’m very thankful for. And of course, it’s a nice reminder to know that I had the tenacity to keep at something for over a decade.

Of course, there will be days of shitty posts and uninspiring entries – but I think that if nothing else, I’m happy to know that I’ll always have a safe space for my writing, and that no one can take that away from me.

Unless, of course, I run out of money to fund the domain / hosting fees for this little hobby. lol.

Happy Anniversary!

Starbucks Malaysia Launches New Winter Menu – And It’s All About That Tea

It may be summer all year-round in Malaysia, but that doesn’t mean we can’t sip on some cool beverages and imagine we’re somewhere nice and frosty (while we melt in the blazing heat)!

Enter Starbucks’ latest winter offerings – The Pure Matcha series – which is inspired by Japanese tea culture. Made from premium micro-ground matcha sourced from first-harvest green tea leaves grown in Japan, there is an emphasis on preparation of ingredients and balance of flavours, to produce a cup of pure green tea goodness. Expect a subtly sweet aftertaste, fresh green notes and a silky finish – perfect for tea lovers!

Winter Beverages 1

Marrying three distinctive flavours from Japanese cuisine is the Black Sesame Pure Matcha Latte with Taro Foam. Fun, indulgent and colourful, the beverage blends Starbucks pure matcha with a velvety black sesame sauce, topped with a frothy layer of aromatic purple taro foam – for a nutty, earthy and rich flavour explosion.

The Caramel Pure Matcha Chocolate Chip Frappuccino will appeal to fans of kakigori, as it was inspired by the Japanese shaved ice dessert. Pairing matcha with chocolate and caramel, no-sugar green tea powder is blended with milk, bits of chocolatey java chips, before being topped with whipped cream and a decadent drizzle of caramel sauce.

Winter Beverages 2

Another one to try is the Okinawa Brown Sugar Latte, a comforting and indulgent seasonal favourite. A signature of the Okinawa region in Japan, Okinawa brown sugar has a deep and complex flavour that lends a hint of mellow sweetness to Starbucks’ signature espresso. The drink is then topped with an airy milk foam and swirl of brown sugar drizzle.

Coffee lovers are not left out, as the brand’s latest Winter Coffee Beans, produced in the volcanic Atitlan region in Latin America are used for the the Starbucks Guatemala Atitlan – carrying a bright citrus acidity, elegant aromas of orange blossom, and deep notes of sweet caramel and milk chocolate.

Starbucks® Zodiac Rat Mug

To usher in spring and the Lunar New Year, there will be Starbucks exclusive Year of the Rat merchandise, with cute, rat-inspired mugs, tumblers, water bottles, cold cups and an adorable Rat Bearista Bear. Food offerings also abound, with items such as the spicy and creamy Baked Tuna Pasta, Apple Multiseed Bread, Orange Muffin with Cranberry and Cream Cheese, Classic Walnut Cookies and Golden Treasure Cupcake.

Starbucks® Zodiac Rat Bank

Starbucks® Bearista Bear Rat

All of the above offerings are available at all Starbucks Malaysia stores from 7 January 2020 for a limited time only.

 

*Photos courtesy of Starbucks Malaysia and GO Communications

 

FOLLOW ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA 

Thanks for reading! I’m trying to grow my social media, so any likes and follows will be appreciated! You’ll also be updated on what I’m up to on a daily basis. 🙂

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I Did A Vlog! New Haircut For The New Year, CNY Deco and Makeup Haul

A new thing for 2020? We’ll see how long it lasts.

sabotaging self before it even begins; gotta stop doing this to myself lmao

 

FOLLOW ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA 

Thanks for reading! I’m trying to grow my social media, so any likes and follows will be appreciated! You’ll also be updated on what I’m up to on a daily basis. 🙂

facebook.com/erisgoesto 

twitter.com/erisgoesto 

instagram.com/erisgoesto

 

 

 

Driving The Great Ocean Road Of Australia: A 12-Hour Itinerary

Possibly one of the most scenic coastal driving routes on the planet, the Great Ocean Road is a 243-kilometre stretch on the southwest coast of Australia, passing through deserted beaches, craggy cliffs and lush rainforests. Built by Australian and New Zealand World War I soldiers who returned from the war between 1919 and 1932, it is also the world’s largest war memorial. The most well-known attraction along the route is the 12 Apostles – a collection of 12 (now only seven remain, because they crumbled into the sea from erosion) limestone stacks rising majestically out of the azure blue waters of the sea.

Ideally, three days is perfect to drive and visit the many quaint seaside towns along the route – but since our itinerary was super packed, we had to fit everything into one. If you’re pressed for time, this itinerary might be useful for a small but all-round taste of what the route has to offer.

8.40AM – SEAPORT FERRY

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Most travellers start their journey from Melbourne and make their way to Apollo Bay, but since we departed from the Mornington Peninsula, we took the Seaport Ferry from Sorrento, docking at Queenscliff. The check in + ride took approximately an hour and 15 minutes, and we went up to the rooftop deck for beautiful views of Port Philip Bay dotted by boats and yachts. The inside of the ferry was cosy as well, with a cafeteria selling refreshments.

From Queenscliff, we drove two hours to the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch. Along the way, we took in the gorgeous coastal sights of Australia’s southwest coast, dotted with beaches and natural cliffs lined by stunning blue waters.

11 AM – GREAT OCEAN ROAD MEMORIAL ARCH 

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The Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch marks the ‘start’ of the road, and is one of its most photographed attractions. There are plenty of parking spots for a quick stopover, statues of the soldiers labouring on rocks, as well as information boards on the story of how the road was built. Visitors can also walk down to the nearby beach.

Constructed as a tribute to some 3,000 ANZAC soldiers who returned from fighting in World War I, the GORM arch is the third one to be erected after a truck and a fire caused damage to the previous ones, respectively. It is made from wood with sides of stone and cement, and the original wooden sign from 1939 still hangs above the archway.

12 PM – LORNE / TEDDY’s LOOKOUT

If you want an elevated view of part of the Great Ocean Road, Teddy’s Lookout at the small (but touristy) town of Lorne is a good place to stop by. The beach in town is popular with sunbathers, picnickers and surfers. Naturally, where there are tourists, there are also local scavenging wildlife, such as seagulls…

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…literally all over the green near the beach. They’re used to human presence, and are not afraid even if you walk very close to them.

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Thankfully we didn’t have to hike all the way up, as cars are able to access the hill where the lookout point is.

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The top of Teddy’s Lookout features a small viewing platform with sweeping views of the surf breaking at the mouth of the Saint George River, as well as gorgeous emerald green hills and the road snaking at their feet. Not sure how the place got its name but whomever Teddy was sure knew where to get the best views in town!

1.30PM : LUNCH AT LA BIMBA, APOLLO BAY 

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Like Lorne, Apollo Bay is a seaside town, popular among tourists as a base to explore the rest of Ocean Road. As such, you will find lots of restaurants, souvenir shops, hotels and accommodation here. Apollo Bay is big on natural beauty, so apart from its pristine, warm beaches that are great for surfing, angling and swimming, visitors will also find lush rainforest and magnificent waterfalls here. Being a coastal village, the seafood is fresh, but expect prices to reflect its tourist-centric industry.

A good place for lunch is La Bimba, which offers great views of the seafront as you dine on contemporary Australian cuisine with produce sourced locally. Will put a separate post on the food, so stay tuned!

4.15 PM : CALIFORNIAN REDWOODS @ OTWAY RANGES 

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One of my greatest regrets from my trip to San Francisco was the fact that I didn’t manage to see the giant Californian Redwoods. This trip was my second chance, and the experience did not disappoint.

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Located five minutes away from Beech Forest, the Redwoods of the Otway Ranges were planted by the local government some 85 years ago. Today, they tower over 60 metres high, forming a shady canopy with minimal sunlight hitting the forest floor. Staring up with mouth agape, I was struck by just how large and tall these trees are – despite being comparative ‘babies’ to older redwood trees that can live up to 2,000 years old. Redwoods are basically living fossils, and some have survived longer than many human civilisations. When you think of the sheer history and the things these trees have lived through, it’s just… overwhelming.

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The landscape, surrounded by ferns and shrubbery as well as small, flowing streams with crystal clear water, create an enchanting atmosphere.

6 PM: 12 APOSTLES HELICOPTER TOUR

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We finally arrived at the highlight of our trip at Port Campbell National Park – the 12 Apostles. And we had the best seats in the house to catch the most beautiful scenery in Australia – aboard a helicopter!

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It was my first time flying in a heli and what an experience it was! Strapped into the backseat, the roar of the rotors was deafening even with headphones on, so it was difficult to hear what the pilot was saying. Even so, the views spoke for themselves, as we gently swerved over the majestic landscapes of foamy white waves crashing against the cliffs. At certain points, the heli banked sharply, blurring the line between the sky and the sea into an endless blue – it felt like floating in space, but also quite dizzying.

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It was a short ride lasting less than 20 minutes, and we were back on the ground in no time. After some more photos, we departed for our night’s accommodation in Port Campbell.

So there you have it – a 12-hour or so itinerary for those who want an all-round experience of the Great Ocean Road and its awesome sights. I hope this guide and the suggestions of places to visit has been helpful, and Happy Travels!

 

30-Day Writing Challenge – Day 11: An Adventure In The Kitchen

11. An Adventure In The Kitchen

First things first: I am not much of a cook.

When I was younger, my mother ruled the kitchen with an iron-fist, and would often shoo me out because I wasn’t cutting something right or wasn’t quick enough to take the pan off the heat, etc. Over the years, my interest waned, and while she did eventually try to get me to cook, I was completely disinterested by then. There’s also a complicated food dynamic in my household; they don’t eat what I eat, and I can’t feel bothered to cook something that I don’t like (because why the effort, then?). Living alone in the UK, I had more freedom to experiment, but my cooking was still basic – edible (occasionally tasty) but not exactly 5-star fare.

A couple of years ago when my ex came to visit me from the States, he thought of impressing my folks with what I couldn’t do – cook a nice meal. My ex is not a bad cook, and I was touched that he was expending such effort. On the menu was pork adobo, spaghetti and fruit salad. I was to assist.

Shopping for ingredients was an adventure in itself, because many of the items he was used to were not available in Malaysia, or were called by a different name so it was difficult to look for them. We couldn’t find bayleaf, so we had to leave that out of the adobo (although he insisted that it wasn’t true adobo if there wasn’t bayleaf), and for the spaghetti he requested ‘tomato sauce’.

Now this was the funniest part. To Malaysians (myself included), tomato sauce = ketchup and not the canned tomato sauce type Westerners use for pasta. Mistaking this (and me not realising), we ended up putting ketchup in our spaghetti! Of course it was super sweet and almost inedible, but all else considering, having 2/3 dishes right was not too bad.

While we might not have broken up on good terms, this kitchen adventure has stuck with me because they were some of the good moments in our relationship. Every relationship has its ups and downs, and if you aren’t able to look past the bitterness after a breakup, I think you’d carry a lot of resentment and hate in your heart. Which is why despite going our separate ways, I look back on this fondly.