Thursday, 31 July 2014

Stadt in Überblick: Kassel

After almost 2 years of living in this town, today I must bid it adieu. Well, I'm actually all moved out by now. It has been real but it's time for new adventures. Kassel was the in-between of Karlsruhe and Halle. It's not as run-down as Halle and has the classical charm of Karlsruhe. Living cost-wise, it's also somewhere in the middle, which was why I decided to dwell here in the first place. I can't say it's always been filled with happy memories but that's mostly because I have a habit of looking at the grass on the other side. But it's been real and you've been rather good to me. And I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I was glad I came here.

My favourite local store ever! Sadly, uhh, way too pricey for me...
The best part about Kassel is its geographical aspect: it is located right in the middle of the country! It takes about the same time from here to reach each corner of Germany. It definitely doesn't qualify to be a big city but it is very rich in culture. There are many people from all over the world coming to visit or eventually call this place home. One of the reasons they come to visit is the documenta exhibition - one of the biggest art exhibitions in the whole world - which is held every 5 years. Two years ago the town was packed with hundreds of tourists from all over the world to visit the exhibition. It was pure madness! Another reason why people might want to visit Kassel would be the Brothers Grimm Museum. Although Kassel wasn't their place of birth, they once lived in Kassel for a very long time. In fact, Kassel's long-distance trams each have a name based on their fairy tale characters, with a little passage from the story pasted on the window. Their annual christmas market is also lined with the Brothers Grimm theme.

The best looking building in the modern world ♥
Due to the huge damage from the second World War, most of the town was destroyed. There are only very few old buildings left in Kassel, which are pretty much restricted to the Vorderer Westen. And this is my favourite part of town! The streets are lined with old buildings, local stores and various cafés as well as florists. One of the stores being Wild Wood. Not just that, Kassel is adorned with secondhand stores, which have such immaculate selections. Also, the uni students hold a clothing flea market twice a year. It has been such a blessing shopping in this town. Another fact that I love about this town is how it's so close to nature. You can practically walk a few metres and constantly find greeneries around you. Such a pleasant place to take pictures. And the uni is incredibly welcoming to foreigners. They hold amazing events, such as international orientation and international dinner. Really, a good way to make loads of friends...and try out other country's food. Speaking of which, here are my favourite hangout spots in town:

Location: tram stop Mittelring, you'll see it on the way down

Despite the number of Asian grocery store spread all around Kassel, this one is my favourite. It's the most complete one, the environment is well-tended and the service is always adorned with smiles. They have everything, starting from instant seasonings and frozen goods to asian plants and cooking utensils. This is by far the most well-stocked grocery store that I've ever been accustomed to. What's more, they also take deliveries from their website! I don't really know how much it costs but I think it will take up to no time to get your order delivered to your home, if the items are in stock. All kinds of people also work there, not just Asians like in most cases. Granted, various kinds of people also shop there - again, not just Asians - so they might have seen the "Help Wanted" sign.

Location: right by the Ständeplatz tram stop

One of the hardest things to find in small towns in Germany is cute cafés, especially one that serves crêpes and the like. Crêpes are normally for sale in stands in festivals or in an almost beaten down place by the street. Really unglamorous. Which is why I was over the moon when I found this place. The crêpes are incredibly tasty, the prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is rather nice. And they deliver! Not that I've ever used their delivery service. They also sell macarons, muffins and other delicacies which will make your mouth water. In case you're curious what the insides look like, I've written about it here.

Location: demolished (formerly in the Kürfursten Galerie, behind City Point)

Ever since I moved to Germany, hunting for the cheapest and highest quality buffets has become a habit of mine. This one was informed to me by my friend Rezy, who once lived here too. This is definitely the cheapest and most delish buffet I've ever stumbled upon! For 4,99€ you can eat a meal of salad and main course. You can get seconds all you want. And they serve rice! If you're Asian living in Germany, you'll tell me that this is a rarity in non-Asian places. Drinks are not included within the buffet, obviously, but it was still a bargain. The buffet was open from noon until late at night - which is probably why they went out of business. But, seriously, I wish I could eat there just one last time. I've also written about this place before.

Location: tram stop Bebelplatz then go uphill to an intersection

During my portfolio-making time - and actually once before, I went back and forth here to get everything printed. I love the quality of their papers and colours! They also helped me print my first ever book. They accept various kinds of printing, up to DIN A0 paper. I would totally recommend this place to get your stuff printed, if you're a designer. The quality is just unmistakable! The process is also rather quick since you can just send your data online and they will tell you when you can pick it up. They don't only do printing, they also sell cute and witty stationery next door. I always stop by to check out their adorable collection. They never fail to make me swoon.

Location: go downhill from the main train station, it's on the left side

This one is located so close to home that I often came out here just to have a meal. It doesn't matter whether or not someone is willing to come out with me because their food is just so good. My friend Rezy liked this place so much that every time he came to town, we had to eat there. And he came almost every week! The atmosphere is rather nice. I mean, it's nothing fancy but it's clean and quaint. With or without company, I always really enjoy eating here. They also have the vegan choice, although not quite written on the menu card. But you can trade your normal tzatziki sauce with hummus. They used to serve free glasses of tea too but somewhere along the way they stopped. Still would recommend to everyone who hasn't tried it, though.

Unlike Karlsruhe and Halle, where I ended up there without a choice, Kassel was purely my choice from the beginning. I can't say it was the best choice of my life but I sure don't regret it. I met many people and learnt a lot here. But I wouldn't go so far as to say that this town describes me. It certainly has a mix of aesthetics spread all over, some of which are to my liking and some others I couldn't care less for. But it has been very real. The last 2 years made me do things I'd never done before and stumble upon troubles I never thought I would ever have to witness. Though premature, I've always known this farewell was daunting. I was always sitting at the edge of my seat in this town, ready to flee. It's not your fault, Kassel, that you contain none of my loved ones, making our relationship almost unbearable. May we be better friends in the future. For now, I bid ye adieu!


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Sunday, 27 July 2014

Wishing everyone an Eid Mubarak! Go on and celebrate this day of victory! May we be blessed tomorrow onwards and start again with a blank slate. If I were to have made mistakes which offend you, please forgive me. Shall we forgive each other's flaws and accept our imperfections as human beings? Hope you get to spend the day with your loved ones in a merry mood. Peace be upon you!


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Friday, 25 July 2014

A Hillbilly Farewell?

Okay, so my vigour is back just in time for the last outfit post in Kassel. Still pretty much beat by the heat, though - hey, that rhymed! - so I took these photos in my room instead. Phew, I gotta tell ya, now that everything's all packed and ready to go, the room looks so much emptier (and neater too, to be honest). Firu came to Kassel last weekend to help me pack and now everything is finished. I'm actually very excited about leaving tomorrow. Sunday is Eid Mubarak, after all! This might just be the last time I get to celebrate in a faraway land so I decided to go home only afterwards. Everything is literally taken care of at this point and I feel like all I need to do left is get on that plane and leave. Though...not just yet. I've still got some plans up my sleeves this summer. Obviously, I will share my adventures with you all later so please look forward to that!

thrifted shirt // Pimkie dungaree // All Star by Converse sneakers

I don't know what came over me to pair these two items together. The overall - though short - and the plaid pattern - not to mention its bagginess - are just the perfect concoction for looking like a complete hillbilly. The only thing missing is the hay for me to chew. Here I didn't wear my boater hat - which could substitute a straw hat - but I did the other day when Firu and I went out. Yes, I think I made the perfect farmer. Where's my cattle? Except, I guess, a farmer would be wise enough not to wear converse while working. A pair of wellies would be much more helpful in the muddy soil. No, wait, am I actually thinking about farming right now? That's a huge manoeuvre in a personal style blog.


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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

5 Life Essentials

We all hold on to something to enhance our life quality. Some of us have principles, some of go with routines and some of us keep habits. Not all of them is good for the long run. But, if you filter the good and leave out the bad, it can actually be good life essentials. And, for what it's worth, I also hold on to some things - be it habit, principles or routines - to keep me from going insane.


Water First, Water Last


When I was little, my Dad always made sure that I drink water first thing in the morning. It has to be the first substance to enter my body before anything else everyday. He also makes my sister and I drink at least 2 litres of water everyday - which, to be honest, ain't that hard. This habit goes with me wherever I go. When I wake up, the first thing I do is pour myself a glass of water and drink it. Before breakfast, before shower, before anything. The habit continues with me drinking water before I go to sleep too and bringing a water bottle everywhere I go. You would think water is just water. But I gotta tell ya, it makes a whole lot difference. Water makes your skin look and feel better, it helps you fight diseases and prevent them from spreading, and it helps your digestive system. So if you get to choose what to get into your system first and last, wouldn't you choose something with this many benefits?


First Meal of the Day


Again, another first thing in the morning thing. I know breakfast isn't everyone's cup of tea. Many people claim not to be able to eat so early in the morning. But you cannot skip breakfast. It is the most important meal of the day. I mean, think about it, how do you expect to function without any surge of energy before you set off? There are plenty of types of breakfasts you can choose from. Personally, I don't mind eating meat and rice early in the morning. Europeans normally frown upon this, feeling that the meal is too big. They, instead, eat yoghurt with fruits or müsli or cereal. That's fine too! Just make sure it's something healthy and nutritious. If you feel like you can't eat in the morning, try to stop eating at least three hours before bed time. If you feel like eating, just drink water or snack on fruits. It might help your appetite in the morning.


Random Acts of Kindness


To me, a day gets so much better when I'm out and about and someone randomly treats me kindly. Be it someone I actually know or just a passing stranger, my day always gets better when I receive these acts of kindness. And vice versa. I always feel good after being kind to someone, especially if it's someone I don't know. Of course, this is providing my kindness was also well-received. But if you are being truly and sincerely kind to someone, almost 100% of the time, they would appreciate your kindness. It can be as simple as smiling to them when you pass them by or greeting them or even offering a seat on the bus/tram. You can go as far as having a nice conversation with them - this happens to me a lot - and learn something about them or the world we live in. Also, I believe if we train ourselves to be kind to people, the world can indeed be a better place. Try it!


Never Too Old to Learn


Something else my Dad taught me. He always makes sure I don't stop learning. Anything. He gives me new facts all the time or things to read, watch or listen to. And I think he's right. We can never stop learning even if we try. Knowledge is everywhere, like air. They spread all around us. But, of course, taking all that knowledge in is unlike breathing. We have to actively reach for them and insert them into our system. And, I gotta tell ya, it feels a little different with what we learn from school, where you pay attention half of the time then cram before the exam, stressing out in the process. In life, learning doesn't come with a quiz - well, at least none that you could know of beforehand - so it's a lot less stressful. Actually, it's rather fun.


"Dolce far Niente"


It is a concept from the Italians. It translates to: "The Sweetness of Doing Nothing." Nobody can live life like the Italians. They have a way of doing things just enough and enjoying the little things. That's how they stay happy. Something that all of us can definitely learn from them. In the pursuit of happiness, always find time to stop and actually appreciate what God has given you. Take a breather is what the Americans call it. But it's more than just a breather. You always have to know how to sit back and take all the beauty of life in. When you get to set yourself apart from the picture, you can see all the silver linings. So enjoy doing nothing now and then.


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Saturday, 19 July 2014

Down for the Count

First and foremost, I would just like to apologise for the crappy photography of this post. The heat got to me and it was the busiest day of the week. To be honest, all excuses aside, I really haven't felt into taking outfit pictures lately. It is probably indeed the heat and the fasting - as much as I don't like to use the latter as an excuse for anything - but it didn't stop me last year. In fact, I still took tons of pictures then and wrote as many contents. So I really can't say why, maybe I've just been thinking about life stuff that has the least to do with outfits and they've been crowding my brain so much that something as leisurely as taking outfit photos isn't included in my priority. Thus, also excluded in my energy gauge. But I feel like things will surely turn around the week after next. No guarantee here but watch this space. Hang in there!

Cotton Club top // Mangga Dua pants // vintage purse // thrifted sandals

I don't know if I have spoken about these pants before. Yes, they are unbranded. In fact, Mangga Dua is one of the biggest modern markets in Jakarta (or even Indonesia?). No, not a fashion outlet. Practically a market, like the ones that sell fish, veggies, snacks, DVDs, anything really. Including clothes. I wouldn't say they have top-notch quality. If anything, it's probably the exact opposite. But these pants have got some serious compliments from a number of people in the past. They were even surprised to find out where I got it from. Truth is, just by looking, you wouldn't know how crappy these pants are. But when you touch it, wear it or even just look at the button and zipper, you would know what I was on about. I kind of like them, though. They have this form which always manages to make my legs appear so much smaller - I guess it's thanks to the vertical stripes as well. And they've stuck by me for over three years. So there's that.


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