Photos by Mikko Puttonen.
Just an update on what's been groovin: I've been back from my travels in Santorini, Paris and New York for almost a month now and London is my current home base where I am continually seeking opportunities for work, meeting new people and having a jolly good time. Everyday I learn new things about this city. Awhile ago, I revisited St Paul's Cathedral and it was one of the many landmarks in London that made me fall in love with this city. We had spent a night at a hotel right across the iconic cathedral and I jumped at the opportunity to be able to run around before life started to happened at the wee hours in the morning. That was 2 years ago. This time around, I remember it being such a good day spent with my friend, Mikko, after a really good curry night and sleepover before a day of exploring. So I guess I can say that St Paul's is a place that radiates a lot of positivity for me.
Having been travelling in and out of London this past year has made me have a love-hate relationship for this city but it's really it's contradictions that have made me come back for more. It may not have the best weather, the tubes always go on strike and everything seems to be double the price from back home but I love the people I've met in all parts of town, places I never thought I'd ever step foot on like Peckham where I had the best Motown parties and danced my heart out. Or hanging around at the most ridiculous house parties. Reuniting with old friends and meeting new ones. Discovering the new in the old in this city I feel so blessed being able to wake up to. The future is still uncertain, I am still unsure of my next steps, where I'm travelling to next or where I'll live a year from now but the energy in this city has kept me positive and hopeful that there are better days to come and that surely, one day I'll be able to call it home.
We shot these images in Times Square during my last few hours in New York. While it’s every other New Yorker's and my own nightmare, it made sense for me to revisit the classic ‘concrete jungle’ backdrop. It reminded me a lot about my love-hate relationship with the city, while it's amazing being surrounded by all these billboards, people and feeling like anything is possible, it was a place you are and feel incredibly small in.
I was partly in New York for work and to visit one of my best friends and while I would sum it up as a good time, I felt like a complete mess while being there. I guess this could be partly because the last time I was in this unforgiving, fast-paced city was when I decided to travel here solo and found it to be one of the most depressing weeks of my life although I came out from it stronger and motivated. This time around, there was that constant fear of being alone and it was the last thing I wanted to do. Henry and I argued- I was being a complete brat at times. We were both so insecure trying to make each other feel vulnerable.
The week returning from my 3 week long adventure was a hard one emotionally and mentally. I pretty much lost myself. Travel for me is my escape and the moment I return to some sort of familiarity and routine, I seem to fall apart a little. I’ve realised that I am constantly trying to run away from the present. It’s been a lot of ups and downs this year, but recently I’ve found myself to be an emotional wreck due to finally coming to a realisation after so many years why I behave the way I do. It made me so sad that, that was it. And it was something that I simply couldn’t run away from anymore and had to deal with everyday, no matter how long it took.
While New York City is known for it’s relentless energy and being the city where dreams are made of, where anything is possible, it is the one city I’ve found myself to be in a literal nightmare more than once and I really do question it. Why this amazing city- I really don’t know. But if going back has made me learn one thing, it’s simply to love. I think going back with a fear and kind of negativity was just a bad start. So many times I’ve told myself to do all things with love, and to think love, breathe love and live love. But I was mostly frustrated with the city. Angry, determined to not allow it to beat me up like it did two years ago. We all have scars, and the ones that remain shouldn’t have to haunt you when you’re revisiting a place or a time, it should only remind you to get yourself together and be stronger to turn it all around. If I had to sum it up, New York had won again but by turning the last few hours around into magic, I knew that I came out of it stronger than I did before. So thank you New York, for being so hard on me. You always seem to be the most real to me.
I’ve just gotten back from a 3 week adventure in Santorini, Paris and New York and it was a blast. I couldn’t have asked for better company throughout despite the craziness of it all. Santorini was yet another destination I got to check off my dream list. We went to celebrate my pal, Niran and his other half, Christine and it was easily the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever attended and such a blessing to have been able to be a part of. I spent most of my time on the Greek island in both Fira and Oia, both stunning with it’s endless epic views and stacks and stacks of Cycladic whitewashed houses soaring over a 300m sea drowned caldera with hints of blue, pink and yellow. This island in Thira had already stolen my heart before I had even set foot in it and everyday for a week I was lost for words by what I saw everyday. Food alone was in a league of it’s own and I was having some of the freshest seafood I have ever had. Thank you Santorini! For your sights, tastes and loveliest people.
If you’ve followed me for awhile now, you would know that I am obsessed with Little India in Singapore. India is undoubtedly one of my dream destinations, the culture baffles me and I love a good curry with naan. I’ve shot several times in different parts of Little India- it’s definitely one of the more livelier parts of town. I love the spirit and energy of the local people, a lot of whom are migrant workers who come for a taste of back home. Singapore’s Little India is probably the closest you can get to real India and although it is a Tamil-concentrated commercial zone, it is full of bright lights, scents and colours from different places of worship and and endless amount of local Singaporean hawker food. With Singapore constantly urbanising, I hope that Little India will never change and I hope that if you’re in Singapore, even if you’re a local, spend an afternoon or evening there and absorb the culture and flavours this little part of town has to offer.
In the spirit of summer, I thought I would share these images shot when Bryant and I visited Kew Gardens at the beginning of summer a few months ago. London was finally warming up and we decided to make the trip down, only to be welcomed by faulty trains and a horrible journey on replacement buses. Took us 2 hours from central London before we finally made it! We got there rather late so the £15 entry fee really didn't seem appetising at that point but it was nevertheless so beautiful. I loved the observatories and cactus gardens, and for the first time in months, probably broke abit of a sweat while I was there. It felt great and was a lovely afternoon well spent with my partner in crime.
My advice if you're going down to Kew is to go early- make the £15 worth it, the garden is huge and there is so much to see but we sadly was there just 2 hours before closing time. The gardens are open daily throughout the year except during Christmas Eve and Christmas day, so it is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
I made a trip to Mayfield Lavender Farm after months and months of waiting for lavender season to come back since chancing upon it last year. Iris and I found ourselves running through the endless field of lavender and unfortunately, freaking out about bees. We bought lavender home to dry and overall it has been one of my favourite summer weekends in London. I spent the weekend cooking and feasting on so much food with Iris and we danced and sang in the car en route to the farm with our driver, Bobby, who ended up going into the field with us to take our photos. The past couple of weeks have been great, I’ve finally learnt to let go and take each day as it is. I feel a lot healthier now mentally and emotionally. I try not to think too far ahead and take things as they come. It’s been full of surprises so far and I’m filled with gratitude by the end of each day.
Mayfield Lavender Farm only opens a few months a year, Lavender season is slowly coming to an end so if you’re in London, you probably have about 3 weeks left to see this beauty for yourself! I highly recommend it, though it’s rather inconvenient to travel to. The farm is located at Croydon Lane, Banstead Surrey, SM7 3BE and is open daily from May 30th to September 20th.