New Glasses!

It’s like each time that I go back to Singapore, I’d always get myself a new pair of glasses. This could be a new tradition.

rinaz.net Marina's New Pair Of Glasses

I prefer to use glasses as it’s more convenient. Sometimes I use contact lenses when I’m doing sports, but putting the lenses in my eyes, and then cleaning them afterwards is starting to be a chore.

rinaz.net Marina's New Pair Of Glasses

(Marina with Katy Perry)

I could have had a pair made in Italy, but I think glasses are quite costly here. So I made this pair at the optician near my parent’s house. I’ve been going to them for years, even before migrating.

rinaz.net Marina's New Pair Of Glasses

(Marina and Cart eating at Pizza Hut) 

And I love my new glasses! It’s slightly cat-eyed, and has a geek-chic look which I adore.

rinaz.net Marina's New Pair Of Glasses

(Marina with Leonardo Dicaprio)

The glasses, combined with my bangs seems to make me look younger, which is very appreciated 😛

rinaz.net Marina's New Pair Of Glasses

(Marina and Cart, with friends Jerrick and Michelle)

Sometimes I wish that I had taken better care of my eyes when I was younger. There was a time when I remember that I could watch TV from across the room. Now I can’t see anything further than a quarter of a meter – everything becomes really blurry.

Which isn’t fun when you forgot where you’ve left your glasses.

rinaz.net Marina's New Pair Of Glasses

(Marina and Cart with smurfy friends Xinyun and Ben)

The funny thing is though, I’ve always wanted to do lasik and be free of depending on glasses. But I happened to chance upon a video on how it was done and I quickly changed my mind.

Glasses are still okay for me, for now!

Fighting for the Abaddon Anomaly in Milan

Last month, Cart and I were in Milan for the abaddon anomaly. It was such an unforgettable experience and Milan has been a wonderful host, that I’d love to visit again. I’ve already been to Milan some years back, but this time was different as I got to see Milan up a little bit up close and personal.

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

A couple of weeks leading to the event, we’ve been preparing for the anomaly, and also getting gear for ourselves. Since Milan is up North, many of our team members were concerned about how cold it was going to get. We got a couple of thermal shirts and I got for myself a heating pad and some wool socks. I can’t believe that I’ve never discovered wool socks before this. They are so comfy in the cold weather.

Friday afternoon, after an eventful day, rushing around, getting ready and last minute packing,  we just managed to take the train. Phew! We sat down and finally relaxed. Taking the train is something that I enjoy as it’s tranquil to see the scenery outside of the window as the train runs.  Plus, there was complementary WiFi! Making the 4 hour journey pass by quickly and in no time at all, we’ve already reached Milan!

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

We quickly checked in our hotel and then headed out to pick up our abaddon packs. One thing that I’d recommend for travellers to do, is to take the multi day transport pass as it’s a lot more convenient and much more cost effective to travel this way, instead of having to pull out 1.50 euro for each each trip.

It was at the subway where I noticed this :

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

I think it was the first time that I see a public place being sponsored by a corporation like Nissan and Premium Mediaset. Even while walking on the footpath towards the park to pick up our packs, I noticed “MTV” printed at each start. I can understand it, but I still find it quite bizarre nevertheless.

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

I love how bustling the atmosphere was, where we picked up our packs – seeing so many people raring to fight the next day, meeting old faces and making new friends. It was such a nice feeling. We were supposed to meet up at a pub afterwards and get to know other resistance agents, but the queue there was too long that in the end, many of us adjourned to a restaurant not too far away. Nevertheless, we were still quite a big group that we occupied pretty much an entire room!

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

It was here where I also got to meet a really friendly group of fellow resistance agents from France :-)

The next day, we got up bright and early to meet up with our team members. All those concerns about Milan being extremely cold was all for naught in the end, as it turned out to be bearable.

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

We took the subway and slowly walked to Parco Sempione and waited for the event to officially start.

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

If you were wondering why I keep having earphones during the entire event, yours truly was the communications officer for my team – a role that I was curious enough to give a try.

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

It’s all quite military like. Each team consists around 15 – 20 people, lead by the Team Leader who will oversee the group at the various check points. My role was being the facilitator between my team leader and the dispatch team and they are a sort of an operator, looking through the intel maps and strategizing. I had to listen to their commands and support my team leader at any changes.

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

It wasn’t easy for me as my team leader likes to run a lot and each time when I get an update, I had to stop to listen amidst all the cacophony and by then, my team leader would be at least 500 meters away. Hahaha.

Keep in mind, that my backpack looks like I packed a big cube inside it, and you’ll find out later why.

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

Anyway, there isn’t much to say about the anomaly itself, that I haven’t said before in this post. But there was something very memorable that happened.

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

There was a point where my team was running off to the next cluster, and Cart, who was in my team, hurt his feet and had to walk slowly. My team was already a distance away and I didn’t want to lose them so I had to make the painful decision to leave Cart. But by this time unfortunately, I couldn’t find my team members, lost in the huge crowd.

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

I typed in the chat,  “Where are you guys?

We’re at the 4th cluster, Via Brera

So I typed it in Google Maps, hoping that it’ll help me bring me there speedily. I only had 15 minutes to go before the next check point and I was starting to panic. But for some reason, Google Maps got wonky and made me run to one corner of the duomo instead of going straight forward. But the strangest part was, after that, it made me run through Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II! A mall! And it was extremely crowded with Christmas coming up then. Why on earth did Google made me pass here?

I thought that it was extremely peculiar, and felt bad that I had to be rude and push some of the crowds of people in front of me. But it had to be done. I was in a huge competition.

At length, with only 5 minutes left, I managed to reach the final cluster and to my huge surprise, I saw Cart already there! I almost cried with relief, feeling awful that I’ve left him. Apparantly, he was better at reading maps, not trusting Google Maps this time round.

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

Anyway, at the end of the cluster, we felt really good at our efforts. I had a good feeling for this, the resistance managed to make a big area field over Milan, and I found out much later that a group of agents rented a helicopter and a boat to create good anchors.

Win or lose, I felt extremely proud of my team and I gave each of my team members something from my bag … A cake that I made earlier! And I have to say, that it was a really good cake. We all deserved it :-)

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

We then slowly headed to the final location where the results were announced. And we found out that we won! I was extremely thrilled to find out and the feeling of enthralment continued for the next days. I was that happy!

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

All in all I had a really fantastic experience. In fact, Cart and I are considering going to the anomaly in April in Vienna! I am so looking forward to it. I’m sure it’ll be interesting to see :-)

rinaz.net Ingress Abaddon Anomaly in Milan 2015

Pictures by : NCC1701R /  Resistenza Roma 

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Inkjet printer or Laserjet?

The printer recently had an error message and even after reading websites on how to fix it, and used quite an amount of kitchen roll, trying to clean it, it still didn’t work. I even went to the extent of buying new cartridges. It costs almost 40 euro and I was cheesed off to see the error message not going away. So I guess the printer was finally gone.

rinaz.net Printer

The funny thing is that, even if the ink function doesn’t work, why can’t the scanner function work too? That doesn’t make sense.

Still. Five years was a decent run. I wouldn’t even want to attempt to bring it in for servicing, because it’s notorious that the costs to fix it is more than the printer itself.

And thus, during the weekend, we headed to the various electronic stores in Rome – Trony, UniEuro,  MediaworldSaturn. Cart is a very patient man to visit all these places while I just wanted to get it over with. Nevertheless, I saw this printer which was interesting :

rinaz.net Printer

While it looks expensive at first, this particular printer uses an ink tank instead of cartridges. You can fill up the tank yourself when it runs dry. This makes sense to me as using the inks will be cheaper in the long run.

rinaz.net Printer

Then we looked at the laser-jet printer section, as Cart preferred one of those, as they had a reputation of lasting for a very long time. We wanted one with wifi, a scanner and maybe one with a SD card so that it could print or scan, to and fro the card. Which is a useful function.

Unfortunately for us, being the sale season and all the printer with the function that we wanted was sold out. I panicked because I use the printer often and needed it for my work –  printing worksheets and craft ideas.

rinaz.net Printer

So in the end, I got this for myself. It had all the functions that I needed and it was only 50 euro. I’m not fussy. I’m just a little peeved that it costs just 10 euro more than the cartridge that I bought a couple a days earlier. I could have used the money for nice food.

The thing about laser-jets is that it’s more dependable. Cart really wanted one, but I’m justifying that the printer we just got should last about 2 or 3 years before it breaks, and by then technology will be better, we just might get the laser-jet printer that we want.

Eating vegan for a week now!

I’ve been eating a vegan based diet for about a week now. Surprised? Don’t worry, it’s nothing too radical. I’m not going to start being all self righteous and preach about environmentalism and animal cruelty.

rinaz.net Vegan Cheese

I’ve been interested in eating vegan for its health benefits and now that I’ve eaten (almost) everything that I’ve been craving for in Singapore, it’s now a good time to start. So far it hasn’t been that hard as Cart is vegetarian so I’m quite versed in vegetarian cooking and food places.  Only this time round, I had to cut out a bit more – like eggs, milk and honey.

The first couple of days was a bit awkward, especially during breakfast – Even though I did do a meal plan for the week, I like the taste of butter on my toast and honey with my morning tea. Lunch used to be easier as I’d naturally make pasta al pomodoro with parmigiano, or cream pasta with mushrooms and peas.

rinaz.net Fresh produce at Nuovo Mercato Testaccio

But after the second day of having pasta al arrabbiata in a row, I thought, enough is enough and Cart and I headed to a vegan store in Nuovo Mercato Testaccio where I discovered a lot of cool things there quite by accident, among which, Rainbow Chard and Purple Cauliflower.

This is Vegan Cheese :

rinaz.net Vegan Cheese

If you were curious, these cheese are made up of plant fat such as coconut oil and starches. To compare this to real Parmigiano and Cheddar is like comparing skim milk to full fat milk. It doesn’t taste the same, but I’ve never expected it to. Nevertheless, it has been a decent enough substitute. 

(But at 7 euro for a block… I wouldn’t want to get them too often)

I made Sheperd’s Pie with the cheese and soymilk, and I’m pleasantly surprised that it still tastes yummy.

This is soy strips :

rinaz.net Soy Strips

At 4.50 euro, I thought that it was kind of expensive for such a small bag, but I found out later that a handful is more than enough for two as it expands when you soak it. So this bag should last a while and so far, I made spezzatino con patate with it. I liked it so much that I couldn’t help but to take seconds and thirds. I’m thinking up of other ideas on what to cook with this 😀

This is Agave Syrup :

rinaz.net Agave Syrup

I’m on the fence about this. It’s not that I hate it, but it tastes much more delicate compared to regular honey and it makes just the tiniest bit sweeter in my English breakfast tea.

Eating out hasn’t been too much of a hassle – an easy choice would be an ortolana pizza with no mozzarella or pizza ai funghi. Tonight we’re going to an Asian Restaurant, so I guess I’ll get myself some fried veggie noodles with no egg inside. I’m not such a fussy eater.

rinaz.net Pizza Ortolana

On the other hand,  I’d like to share a story of what happened to me a couple of days ago. I was craving for some chocolate croissant, and there was a vegan cafe which was less than a kilometre from where we live. We had a good dinner there and the owners gave us some croissants to go when we left – it was the yummiest, dairy free croissant that I’ve ever had. I was looking forward to having them, so imagine my surprise when we found that the place was closed! The place was still pretty new, as far I knew. I was sad to see it go.

So Cart and I headed to another bar nearby and I was momentarily dumbfounded when I had to choose something for breakfast – they didn’t have soy milk, and I’m not fond of coffee so in the end, I simply had tea.

So … has there been any changes during this week? Did I get vegan powers?

Not really. I still feel like myself, meaning, I don’t feel like I’ve transcended.  But I do I feel hungrier. And every two hours or so, I feel the need to munch on something which I guess kind of defeats the purpose as I don’t see any weight loss so far.  Nevertheless I’m easing myself to exercise regularly – circuit training, aqua-gym and maybe jogging a couple a times a week.

(As a side-note, I’m quite indignant that Singapore City Race cancelled their event without even an update on their facebook page as I’ve trained for it. On the other hand, there was a heatwave when we were in Singapore and I didn’t feel in good form, so I guess it’s a sort of blessing?)

On the other hand, my tummy seems to be less bloated compared to before, which is something that I’m liking and my skin seems to be slightly clearer now that haven’t been consuming any dairy in my diet.

rinaz.net Marina makes a vegan lunch

Now that I’ve been eating vegan drama free for a week, I think I’d like to try to continue for at least another week and see how it goes.

As a side-note, something that just occurred to me. There has been a number of people who’ve asked me, mainly about Cart’s eating habits. What’s wrong with eating meat? It’s permitted by God. I don’t really know how to answer it in a diplomatic manner, so I’ll normally answer, he doesn’t like the taste of it. You know, like durians, I like the taste of it, but he doesn’t but I wouldn’t want to force him to eat it.

What I find shocking is how there are people who try to feed Cart food with meat items on purpose, saying that it’s safe for him to eat. I know they mean well, but I don’t think that’s nice…

Back in Rome!

Time passes so fast and we’re back in Rome now.

I’m missing the routine that I had – like walking down to the mini-mart, getting groceries, listening to the sounds of people talking, the bustling of activities in the morning.

I’m definitely missing how easy it was to get food  favourites such as Prata, Nasi Lemak and Laksa. My mum making many of my favourites and eating them together with my whole family, was such a simple joy for me.  And we’ve visited quite a number of new vegetarian places in Jurong that I’ll try to to write a post about it soon.

Most of all, I’m definitely missing my friends and family – 3 weeks just isn’t enough bonding time and to do everything that I wanted to do. The next time I hope that I could stay for a little longer – maybe a month or two? Then Cart can join me later since he can’t take too long a leave.

In any case, Singapore has changed so much – new buildings when it used to be an empty plot of land, and then there are buildings which are now gone and or cordoned to be demolished.

There are nuances that I see, like on the road for example, no cars stop by the side of the road at all till a taxi driver explained that there are cameras now installed at every junction and I see people queuing up at the bus interchange when just a few years back it’s common to see people cutting the queue.

What happened? Keep in mind that it was only about 2 years ago since we’ve last visited. Part of me feels sad at the rapid changes, especially in Taman Jurong where my childhood stomping ground used to be and not being to recognize what I used to know. But that’s the price you get for improvements, I guess.

Anyway, now that we’re back in Rome I’ll try to get back into my blogging routine  – onwards and upwards!

Spotted in Rome : Phone Charging Stations

While we were in Euroma2, I noticed a kiosk where you could charge your phone. The screen will indicate which slot was empty. You create your own pin to open them.

rinaz.net Charge your phones in Rome

Inside you’ll find various cables for different kinds of phones. You connect them together, close the door and have a meal or continue shopping.

rinaz.net Charge your phones in Rome

I recounted to Cart at how time ago, while I was living in Singapore at how I was able to go to a random handphone shop and ask them to charge the phone for me for a few cents.

Coming back to the kiosk, I thought that was a good idea, though I’m not sure how many would use it in reality as I think that too many would feel anxious when parted with their phones.

rinaz.net Charge your phones in Rome

Speaking of phone charging stations, Cart and I stumbled upon this kiosk at the Cipro Metro station – this one was interesting to me as it also distributes water, similar to the one we saw in Aguillara.

rinaz.net Charge your phones in Rome

It distributes both naturale and frizzate for free though and I look forward to bringing my bottle to fill it up and give it a try.

rinaz.net Charge your phones in Rome

And on the other side, there is a charging station and you lift up the flap to connect your cable in.

rinaz.net Charge your phones in Rome

You’d have to  stay there the entire duration. But since the area is full of portals, I can just imagine that not many would complain as this would be the perfect place for playing ingress and farming!

My new running shoes!

I’ve been using my New Balance shoes so much that they were in very bad shape.

rinaz.net Newtons Running Shoes Pop

I was forced to wear my old runnies which was a bad mistake. It was the most uncomfortable run – it felt clunky and heavy. And during my weekend long run, I had a bad blister and one of my nails turned black. This has never happened to me even when I was doing my marathon last year.

So Cart and I went to the nearest New Balance shop to get a replacement pair. Unfortunately for us, there were no Minimus shoes for sale. We were informed that the range is not sold in Italy any more. I wasn’t surprised though, as minimalist shoes aren’t popular here. They are still being sold in North America though.

The closest thing to a minimalist shoes that I remember are still being sold in Italy are Newtons. We went to a shop nearest to us and after a long deliberation, here are my new Newton Fate shoes!

rinaz.net Newtons Running Shoes Pop

One try and I like how light they feel. The toe-box is roomy which is important to me so that I can move my toes and not feel cramped. The middle of the toes are raised up, which is the unique point for Newtons. They can feel strange at first wear.

rinaz.net Newtons Running Shoes Pop

While I’m a size 37, I had to get these one size up as they are more comfortable for me. They cost 120 euro. Which I guess is cheaper than the distance elite which was what I was looking for, but not sold here. Can’t be too choosy I guess.

rinaz.net Newtons Running Shoes Pop

These pair has a 4.5 heel cushion which is just slightly higher than my Minimus. But I’m pretty sure that wearing these will be much more comfortable than my old runnies.

rinaz.net Newtons Running Shoes Pop

Anyway, I haven’t given them a real test run as I’ve been horribly sick this week. Training this time round has been quite tough on me. and I really don’t know if I will be in a good form for my run in late December. Kind of scared.

Diary of a Singaporean now living in Rome, Italy