Hello 2019!

Hi everyone, and welcome to a new year.

Feels like time has just wooshed by but when looking back, a lot of things has happened in 2018, both good and bad. Nevertheless I’m very grateful for all the experience and beautiful memories that I’ve encountered and am looking forward to stepping up into my life.

I don’t really belive in new year’s resolution, but for this year I want to try to take care of myself better and focus on what makes me happy and everything else will fall in place.

New year, new journey. I hope that you come and experience it together again with me 🙂

rinaz.net

Happy Anniversary Cartcart

It is now 6 am at this point of writing and here I am amazed that ten years ago, Cart and I were in Singapore being solemnised, in front of my family, relatives and close friends.

rinaz.net Cart and Rinaz wedding anniversary

I still remember the day quite vividly, excited and happy to be surrounded by the people that I love.

rinaz.net Cart and Rinaz wedding anniversary

I will have to say though, that the past decade hasn’t been easy – moving to Italy and having to start all over again – learning the language and assimilate in the culture, and being so far away from my family …

rinaz.net Cart and Rinaz wedding anniversary

Not to mention that economy wise, it has been quite tough for the both of us but I’m grateful to have such a constantly loving partner who is kind, and patient towards me, understanding and supportive when I’m having my bad days and being on board when I have a sudden spark of creative motivation.

rinaz.net Cart and Rinaz wedding anniversary

I didn’t managed to reach the goals that I’ve set before migrating to Rome, and I get more and more alarmed each time seeing how much my parents has grown older each time I get back, which means that we are getting older too.

rinaz.net Cart and Rinaz wedding anniversary

But on the other hand, when I reflect back, there has been so many achievements that I’ve reached which is only possible living here, and I want to continue this journey and experiences with Cart for as long as it is possible with our limited time here.

rinaz.net Cart and Rinaz wedding anniversary

Thank you Abang for all that you’ve given me. For comforting me when I’m feeling scared, for pulling me up when I’m feeling down, for motivating me when I’m feeling lost … There are many ways that you’ve made me a better person that I am today.

rinaz.net Cart and Rinaz wedding anniversary

I hope for many more years of happiness for us, I love you very very much. Happy anniversary, amore mio ❤️

rinaz.net Cart and Rinaz wedding anniversary
rinaz.net Cart and Rinaz wedding anniversary

P.s. These gorgeous photos were taken by our very talented friend Marco. I love how they turned out, Cart and I look like we were in a magazine cover. Ahaha

rinaz.net Cart and Rinaz wedding anniversary

An amazing experience in Berlin!

So I have a good friend, Jules who I’ve known since school. She asked me to join her for a get away, and I jumped at the chance as I thought that it was a great way to spend time with her. It has been a long time since we had a vacation together.

The place where she chose to go to was Berlin – and in all honesty, till a couple of weeks before the flight I didn’t do any preparation at all. I know of some people who tried to learn the local language and did loads of research about the place that there wanted to visit. Me? At most, I just did a deposit at my hostel and bought a travel pass.

On the day of the flight itself, I woke up really early to play tetris with my hand luggage. It’s late Autumn at the time, so we needed to wear bulky, wooly clothes which could take up a lot of space, but in the end I had the idea of putting each clothing individually in ziplock bags and squeezed the air out of it to compress it. In the end, I was quite proud of my little handiwork.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany
(5 wooly tops in one hand luggage!)

A few hours later, Cart drove me to Ciampino airport, and I was feeling rather unusual. I’m not even sure why, considering that I flew all by myself from Singapore to Rome over 10 years back. But luckily for me, I had the company of lovely people on telegram to distract me and keep me calm.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

While the airport was quite crowded, the flight itself didn’t take long. I watched some videos I’ve downloaded on my phone, listened to some music and at length, I reached Berlin! Woah. Hearing the language, seeing all the signs in German … It was so unreal. I’m really here!

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

(Who is the naughty person who pasted this black strip?!)

It surprisingly easy to navigate around – I already had my travel pass printed out, and the directions to reach my hostel was pretty clear so I had no problems at all. The bus was practically right outside the airport exit, and as soon as I boarded my bus, I settled down and admired the view from the window and looked at the scenery – kids coming back from school, how triangular and rectangular their buildings were, seeing friends chatting with each other, while I did unique visits on Ingress.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

Everything feels so unknown and new, like the first time I ever visited Rome.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

Eventually I reached my hostel and met Jules who was having her lunch. As it was still too early for me to check in, I deposited my luggage and went for a walk around the neighbourhood. The area where the hostel was at is in an area called Hermannplatz which was close to the U Bahn and a lot of public transportation.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

One thing that you could immediately feel was how cold it was! When I reached there, it was about 1 degrees celcius! My hands has never turned so red as it was when I was that week.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

Nevertheless, I had a nice walk, passing by interesting shops, with all the strange fonts and language.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

(I will have to blog soon about the amazingly cheap affordable stuff that Jules and I found. We are totally in love with it)

And that was where I stumbled upon the Turkish Market which was quite cool to see, so many people selling their colourful wares and food right next to the river.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

There was also a lovely vegan bakery in that area. So many colourful doughnuts! Of course, I had to get a box to try – so I chose Boston Creme and a Chocolate and Orange one for breakfast the next day.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

And then I headed back to the hostel to do my check in and to finally see my room. Staying at Cat’s Pajamas was pretty affordable and  public transportation was close by, the beds comfortable, there was a place to shower and even a working kitchen to cook in. I had a pleasant stay throughout there. I’d recommend this place if you don’t mind sharing a room with others.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

Sidenote, I happened to catch this German soap opera while having dinner the other day and was extremely amused at how calm the characters were compared to Mexican telenovelas. Even when a woman poured a glass of wine over one of the male protagonist, he didn’t react at all and just walked out of the room.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

I wish I knew the title of the show, it would be such a riot to watch a small segment and do my own dub over it.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

Travelling with Jules was pretty easy going I found out. While we had different ideas of what we wanted to do – she likes social dance, and I don’t … in the end, we managed to find a happy agreement where we spend the days together and in the evening, we do our own things so while she goes dancing, I get to play ingress which was perfect for the both of us.

And thus, my first evening was having dinner at a Vegan place called – H&D Chay, a Vegan Vietnamese restaurant. Not very German, but it was near the hostel and the plate of noodles that I had was really yummy and I loved the crispy, fresh and colourful vegetables accompanying it.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

Food wise, I never had any issues in Germany as I’ve always found the country very veggie friendly so you can do a quick search on happy cow or google. And after our lovely dinner together, we went off to do our own separate things.

I decided to go for a mission banner which was in the area which lead me to see the Museum Island. It was so pretty seeing the statues and the monuments by the river.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

(By the way, I was surprised to see that there is a Mobike bicycle in the area. I still have the app from when I installed it back in Singapore, and lo and behold, it works!)

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

By the time that I was done with the banner, I found myself in the area called Alexanderplatz. Here is my banner by the way :

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

And Alexanderplatz is famous because this is where the TV tower, the Fernsehturm is located, and this is the tallest building in Germany.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

There happened to be a nice Christmas Market going on in there too. It was such an interesting sight, looking at all the colours and the lights of people selling local food and trinkets.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

There was even an ice skating rink in the middle, framed with a huge ferris wheel in the background.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

I thought it very cool, and quite magical.

By the way, I keep seeing a lot of bears like these :

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

And that’s the end of day 1.

On the second day, Jules and I decided to go for a walking tour starting from the Brandenburg Tor.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

I like walking tours because they are pretty easy going – you don’t really need to book in advance and you’re in the good hands of the guide for the next two hours or so.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

For today, we did the “Free tour of Berlin“. And we walked to the Holocaust memorial, we saw the area where over 20 nobel prize winners studied, we passed by the place where a carpenter tried to blow Hitler up, we even walked to the area where Hitler’s underground bunk used to be.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

I can’t remember everything that the guide told us, as it was an overload of information for me, but some of the things that did stick to me was this particular monument which was a memorial to a person who tried to blow Hitler up.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

And here is the Humboldt university where 20 thousand books were burnt during World War 2. In the picture below is a memorial with empty shelves with space for 20,000 books. We were told that at night, there will be an orange glowing light which represents fire.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

There were so many sights to be seen –  I feel blessed and it feels incredible that I was fortunate to be able to see what I saw.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

By the way, while walking, I saw these restaurants side by side – it’s amusing to me because Va veloce means go fast, and Va piano means go slow.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

The day was still quite young, so we decided to head to the Victory Column, where the guide recommended, to have a look at the view from the top.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

It was an impressive building, with the Golden Goddess, Victoria right at the top of the tower.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

One thing that I didn’t expect  though, was how much climbing was involved. I think it was a good 15 minutes of us climbing up. I was so out of breath!

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

(Don’t look down Marina!)

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

But boy, was the view from the top so spectacular. Everything looks like miniatures from up here. ❤️

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

Evening befell, so we headed back to the hostel. I felt a little tired and decided to take a 15 minute power nap before going out to do a mission banner. Unfortunately, that ended up being two hours! It was starting to be a little late, but I decided to continue going for the mission banners anyway.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

The area where I was at was called, Adlershof which I found out, was known for media and technology. There were quite a number of interesting buildings that I saw which reminds me so much as if I was walking through secondlife.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

One thing that I didn’t expect, was it to be so cold though. I was shivering and it was tough to type on the phone, and I kept wondering if it was such a clever idea to be going out at this time … that was when I saw how the cars were – with snow and ice on top of them.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

You can probably hear me raving like a lunatic on Instagram stories

Nevertheless, I trudged along and was finally done at about 2.30 am. Yes! Finally! And here is my mission banner :

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

Unfortunately it was then that I found out that U Bahns stopped functioning at midnight during the weekday, and the next functioning one will run at 4 am. Fortunately, for me, there was the night bus that I could take and it brought me all the way back to Hermannplatz, the area where I was staying. I think I reached back at about 3.30 am?

It was a cheerful bus ride for me anyway, there was a group of people at the back of the bus singing and playing the harmonica, which was extremely amusing to me.

But you can imagine how stoned I felt in the morning. I still wanted to maximise my day though, so instead of walking, I thought that it could be nice and relaxing to just take the bus.

But first things first! One can not go to Berlin without eating something local. And Jules and I had currywurst!

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

At least the vegan version anyway. I found out it’s called currywurst, because of the curry powder sprinkled on top of the sausage. The place where we went to was called Bergmann Currywurst. And by the time we finished ordering, there were loads of people who queued up for their lunch there.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

I’m not sure how my tofu-seitan sausage compares to the meaty counterpart, but I really liked my meal. It was really good. And you could choose from a lot of different hot sauces there.

We then took the bus number 100, which in my opinion is a great way to see the interesting sights of Berlin and if you have a travel pass, you can just hop on and off anywhere you like. I really like that with the combination of google maps, you can calculate when your next bus will arrive.

(Even if, it might not be the most accurate app. There was once when we had the bus late and it arrived like two at one go)

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

In the evening, I decided to visit a group of Resistance agents in a clubhouse called C-Base.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

(This colourful mural can be seen when you reach the nearest U Bahn)

It was a tough place to reach, first time visitors would definitely have a challenge – google maps lead me to a barricaded building, and then the guard told me to walk to the bridge which was completely the opposite direction.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

(Where are you?!)

But after consulting with the locals on telegram chat, I managed to reach the place eventually.

It’s a cool place, full of tech paraphernalia and pop culture. It was there, I met some Berlin Resistance agents. While it was difficult to communicate since I don’t speak German, but they were really nice and I had a really lovely evening.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

It was here where I met Eumeline, who is actually in a two year relationship with a guy from another faction. I never thought it was something that was possible! And next to me here here is Zorig, who was the top player on The Grid. When I asked, what was his secret to having so much AP, (he had over 600 Million at the time) he said that he only plays for 2 hours a day. I find that a little hard to believe 🙊

And that is the end of day 3!

The next day, I woke up pretty early considering my late evening. It’s just that I’ve always been a morning person. And look at what greeted me at 6 am.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

Such a glorious sky.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

And here I am with freshly washed hair! #vain #voluminous #natural #haha

Jules and decided to go for another walking tour. And this time, it was the Schasenhausen memorial. This was one of the location of the concentration camp during the world war two.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

To be honest, I wasn’t really keen to visit the place at first, because I was sure to feel l very sad when I see the place.  But in the end, since I was in Berlin, what other chance would I have, so I went ahead.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

Together, the guide and the small group that we were in took the train together to an area called Oranienburg – which was slightly outside of Berlin

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

The gravel area, which you see here, is the size of an individual prisoners barrack.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

It was definitely sad for me to hear about how prisoners were abused for the smallest thing that they did.  Like how 400 people had to wash themselves in this small communal area. And how some were left in the cold in their regular prisoner clothes as punishment while we were already shivering in our puffy jackets in the rainy, 0 degree weather.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

This was a table where autopsies were done

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

Here is a room where special prisoners were kept

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

One of the rare, few colourful things which I saw at the concentration camp, paintings done by the prisoners at the dining hall.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

Instant death for prisoners who step in this area

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

In the end, as sad as I felt to be there, I was glad that I did, because it made me feel blessed to be living in a more tolerable world. Nevertheless, there are still some areas in the world which is still at war.

When we reached back to Berlin, I had a quick dinner and decided to do another banner in the area called Frankfuter Tor.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

(Falafel wrap, banana, salad and juice for a well balanced meal. Nom nom nom)

Frankfurter Tor is an amazing place – so interesting and full of pubs and places to eat. Since it was a Friday, there were a number of people out with friends and I really liked seeing how interesting their outfits were. I saw a number of people with punk-ish attire.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

(This building had such beautiful mural, it’s a pity I can’t take a better shot of it as it was so dark)

Unfortunately, it was cold and raining. Which made my internet connection wonky and slow. It was really frustrating.

Luckily there was mephx, a res agent who happened to be in that area that evening and he gave me hot spot, and accompanied me while I finished my banner. Thank you so much! You are so kind. 😊

And here is my banner :

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

I told him about my visit to the concentration camp earlier in the morning and he said something interesting about how both factions made a pact together to not accept any portals there out of respect of the area.

And that was the end of day 4.

For our last full day, Jules and I went for another walking tour. This time round, to Potsdam.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

We took a train and arrived in Potsdam in about an hour or so. Potsdam is so pretty!

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

(And also full of green portals too, so bring loads of xmp with you if you’re heading here)

Practically everywhere you go, makes you feel like you’re in a set of a movie. I wouldn’t be surprised that there were many movies that were shot here.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

There were so many types of influences on the different builds, like there was an English area, a Dutch area, an Italian area and others…

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

One of my favourite would have to be this charming Cecilienhof Palace. So pretty!

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

We then had a quick lunch and had a walk at the Christmas Market

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

I was starving at this point of time, didn’t even had breakfast yet so this was a half eaten bagel before I remembered to take a photo of it. But look at how christmassy the cafe looks like! Tea lights and little fir trees at every table.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

(I’ve never seen a Vegan Nutella before)

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

And finally we saw the Sansoucci palace where the remains of Frederick the great was.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

Sansoucci in French means, without cares or worries, which symbolises that the palace was a place for relaxation rather than a place for power.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

So great was Frederick, that unlike other rulers, he didn’t want to have a fancy grave. Opting to have just a simple one.  And if you are puzzled to see this mound of potatoes on his grave, it was because Frederick was also known as the potato king  because of his insistence that potatoes be grown and from there, it became the popular food is is today.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

Potsdam is very pretty. Definitely worth going for a day trip if you’re ever in Berlin.

Juli and I rested a while when we reached back to the hostel in the late afternoon. While she got busy packing, and planned to go dancing afterwards, I wanted to have a nice final meal in Berlin so I decided to head to a place called Vincent Vegan which was in the area where I wanted to do my final banner.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

Ordering my meal was an interesting experience as everything was in German and I felt overwhelmed so in the end, I just chose the name which looked interesting to me. In any case, I loved my “cheesy one” with the sweet potato fries and the garlic sauce. Oh it was so good.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

And thus, my final hurrah, a last mission banner and this time, I chose the area where the East Berlin wall was. Unfortunately for me, this particular banner required some pass phrases which was in German, and I had to ask visitors chat for help.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

It was rather entertaining to see so many people in the chat helping me out along the way, it was so heartwarming to have people accompanying me while I’m doing my challenges. I felt as if I were a competitor in the Amazing Race.

This mission banner even brought me to the harbour, which for a wild moment, I thought that I couldn’t complete because it was gated. I contemplated on climbing over the fence.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

But I was advised to continue, and eventually I found an opening and managed to continue with the banner with not much problems at all. I did meet a very chatty person there by the way, who wanted to talk to me about pokemon.

Eventually, I reached the colourful area of Kreuzberg where I met picoh3rtz, a really sweet resistance agent who lived in the area and helped me and gave me to much motivation to complete the banner. 💙💙💙 (And also xmp haha!)

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

(Try to type the street name in your phone)

And not before long, I was back at the Oberbaum bridge and was done with the mission banner! And here is what it looks like :

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

It was such a high for me to have finished this, with so many people in the visitors chat cheering for me. That was extremely heartwarming for me. My last few hours in Berlin was definitely unforgettable.

And with a few hours to spare, I decided to rest a little before my flight back home. And since I packed relatively light, I didn’t have much left to do.

Thank you so much Berlin, for your hospitality, your warmth, your amazingness. I had a beautiful, beautiful week and you will always be in my heart. And I look forward to return.

rinaz.net in Berlin, Germany

P.s. If you’re interested, you can see my Instastory so you can watch little videos of my trip there 😀

Beautiful Pisa

Cart and I were in Pisa during the weekend for mission day – an Ingress event where you explore a town, hack on specific portals to create missions for your profile, like this one :

And when you think of Pisa, what is the first thing that comes to mind? The leaning tower, of course. But like many others, before this trip, I thought that there wasn’t that much things to see apart from the tower.

But as we walked through the areas, as suggested from the missions, I saw that quite a number of things that I thought was interesting.

Like this small church which we saw right next to the river, with the white and grey stones and the statues on the top, which made it look unique – I don’t think that I’ve ever seen anything like that before.

I really find this door interesting, with the heads facing right towards you, which to me, is reminiscent of something from the Game of Thrones.

There is a river passing through Pisa, and sights like these is what makes me think that I’m definitely in Europe – the shape of the buildings as well as the mountain behind it.

It was such a lovely day, and coupled with the beautiful early autumn temperature, it made a very pleasant walk.

And at length, we reached the heart of Pisa, the Piazza del duomo and it’s such a magnificent sight.

The buildings look so pristine and majestic, and it’s easy to feel inspired here.

P.s. If you’re interested, I made a Pisa Instastory so you can watch little videos of my trip there 🙂

A new mobile player in town

In Italy, there are a number of mobile services, the most popular ones are namely Tre, Tim and Vodafone which has been dominant for a long time.

I’ve been on Tre since the first time that I’ve migrated in Rome (around 9 years already!) But they are increasingly expensive considering that when I first started, it was 5 euro. Now, the last plan that I had with them was 11 euro a month for 8 GB of data and an additional 1 euro to have the LTE option.

However in Italy, there are new players in the market – namely Ho Mobile and Iliad. At this point of writing,  you can get at least 40 GB a month with unlimited calls and texts for about 8 euro.

So Cart decided to hop on Iliad while I got a Ho Mobile sim card. It was pretty easy to do – all I needed to do was to sign up and insert the documentation and then go to any of their list of partners (almost always there is one in a newspaper kiosk next to the metro) to pay and collect the sim card.

rinaz.net Ho Mobile

Porting my number to Ho Mobile was straightforward too – I followed the instructions on the app, and in about two days, I was able to use my number as before.

Woah, this is the first time that I ever get to play with so much data. I’ve been extremely frivolous at playing Ingress while playing Spotify at the same time  (both of which consumes a lot of data) and I still have

I get 40 GB of data and unlimited calls and unlimited texts. It’s been really challenging to try to finish the 40 GB. And so far, I’ve been extremely frivolous – playing ingress while listening to spotify at the same time (both of which consumes a lot of data) and I still have more than 30 GB of data left over to use in 15 days.

rinaz.net Ho Mobile

So far Ho Mobile has been good. With the amount of data that I have, sometimes I think it’s even possible to get rid of the home wifi altogether. And because Ho Mobile uses the Vodafone network (which is supposed to be the fastest in Italy) upload and download speed is decent.

The only small qualm that I have is that in some areas, especially in crowded places, Ho Mobile is significantly slow. When playing ingress in the centre for example, it takes a frustratingly long time for me to deploy because of the lag.

Also, I’m not really liking the limited amount of data that I get when travelling to other European countries – I can only use up 2.5 GB (while Cart can use 3 GB on his Iliad) which is fine for a couple of days but will be an issue if I want to stay outside of Italy for a week or more.

But apart from that, Ho Mobile has been decent and recently has been increasing their plan for an additional 10 GB … not sure if it’s really such a sweet deal since 40 GB already so challenging to consume! Lets see how it goes.

Adventures with Synfig

As you’ve noticed, I haven’t been creating my cartoon strips for a long time. That’s because I’ve been having issues with the software which I used for drawing ever since I’ve reformatted my laptop after getting hit by a malware time ago.

It took a while to find a suitable software to replace that but for now, I’ve been settling on Inkscape – an open source vector graphic. The drawing tools are notably different compared to Adobe Flash – especially the part where you could easily subtract shapes and pull out curves directly from the native shapes. So my first drawing, looked quite rudimentary.

rinaz.net Inkscape

(Oh yucks!)

But I think I’m starting to get used to it, and try to improve and am looking forward to publish my cartoon strips again. It’s a huge pity though that I have to start from scratch all over – the characters, the background, the props and over 4 years of drawing, since I can’t use my old software and I don’t know of anything else that can open a .fla file. Feels daunting, but one day at a time.

In the meanwhile, I also downloaded a couple of other open source software like Krita and synfig just in case I needed it. Not sure if I’ll be playing much with krita, since I don’t have a drawing tablet but animations has interested me for for a while. So Synfig is a nice software to have.

You know, I’ve been feeling profoundly sad, especially since I came back from Singapore slightly over a week ago so I try to keep my mind busy.

So far synfig has been a good distraction. I was randomly playing with it earlier this week and was pleasantly surprised to see that it could import svg, which is a native inkscape picture.

(Although now I think it’s easier to import images as a .png instead which Inkscape is able to do anyway)

rinaz.net Synfig Studio

Even though I have a little bit of experience with animation using Flash, oh boy. This software has a pretty steep learning curve. It isn’t intuitive for a first time user – it took a long while for me just to understand how to move a shape, because you had to grab the green node because you can’t drag directly using the left click.

Fortunately, synfig has a series of video tutorial which I went through and now I have a slightly better understanding of it and feel quite motivated to do a very simple animation. And here it is!

It’s not perfect and there are a few adjustments that I’ve done since uploading like hair and the strumming arm. A couple of things to take note :

  • Synfig only imports .wav as audio. Recording audio on my mobile phone is in a .m4a format. Which means that I had to take time to convert the recording.
  • When rendering, I can only export as .avi as a video format
  • The rendering DOES NOT export the audio together in the video. Which means that I have to use a separate video editing software to combine them together.
  • I use Adobe Premiere Elements to edit my videos. It does not import in a .avi format. Which means that I had to take time to convert it into .mpg

Wow, it’s extremely time consuming. Plus you don’t have a clue about the estimated time when your video will be finished. And it’s especially frustrating when the finished product isn’t what you expect it to be. Like how it renders the images outside of the bounding box. So you have to do it all over again. And again if it still doesn’t come out the way you like. And again …

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Nevertheless, despite all the hair pulling and the frustration. I’ve been enjoying myself. I’ve still a lot to learn. I doubt that I’d be doing this on a regular basis, but it has been an interesting challenge so far.

Quick updates

Hi everyone!

It’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog and I thought that I would just update with a few things that’s happening over here.

Schools in Italy has closed for the summer about a week ago, so I’m a little bit freer – so I’ve been filling up my time playing ingress and trying to pick up Inkscape – Flash has been giving me issues, which is why I haven’t been making any cartoons for the longest time.

The pity is, that I can’t convert any of my past works so I pretty much have to start from the very beginning which is a very daunting to me.

But inkscape has been interesting to use so far, I still have a lot to learn but I think I’ll get there eventually.

We celebrated Hari Raya last Friday – it was very low key affair, since it’s not a recognised holiday here in Italy. This year’s fast has been a tough one – with the heatwave that has been going on here … not to mention also that the days are long during the summer, compared to how it is in Singapore. I felt completely lethargic and I wanted to do was just to sleep. Preferably in a tub full of cold body lotion.

(On the other hand, I’ve lost a significant amount of weight which is always a source of cheap thrills for me)

Nevertheless, I’ve been busying myself with flamenco – our recital is coming up next week … And this week we’re meeting for practise almost every day. My goodness!

I’ve someone asking me if I’m feeling nervous, and to be honest, I haven’t really thought about it till then! I don’t want to think too much about it right now, and just focus on the choreography. Don’t want to freak myself up especially since I’ve been placed in front.

The thing is, it isn’t my first time performing – I did quite a number of recitals when I was in school – I was in the choir for some years and then for a short time I did Malay dance. I don’t remember feeling nervous because the way that I dealt with stage fright was quite easy. I just took off my glasses. Nothing freaked me since I couldn’t see anything. Also, it was at school, and there was no one there I wanted to impress, so I’m pretty much over it 😛

Anyway, I’m sure that everything will go fine. I’ll update you all on how it goes!

Sidenote : Did I tell you guys that I’ll be in Singapore in August? Lets meet up! 🙂

An onyx guardian after 4 years

Hi everyone! I’ve waited for a while to write this post and the day has actually arrived. So why not grab a cup of tea as you read this.

rinaz.net Morticia drinking tea

I’ve finally reached 150 days.

For those of you who play ingress, there is this achievement called the guardian medal. And for those of you who don’t, why not give it a try to see if you like it. In theory this medal is simple to get. Capture a portal and keep it recharged for a certain amount of days – Bronze for 3 days, Silver for 10 days, Gold for 20 days … then the Platinum at 90 days and the Onyx at 150 days.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian Onyx

But in reality, it’s one of the most frustrating, annoying medal to get especially towards the platinum and the onyx. Because even if you travel to the most remote, hard to reach portal, your opponents would magically know when, and go out of their way to break your portals. And it’s always the same people who does it at exactly 140+ days.

Oh wow! How do they know exactly when to break it?

Shia Labeouf Magic GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

It’s magic!

The hypocritical situation would be, is when you capture your neighbourhood and as long as you keep it recharged, stays that way for about 4 months till someone who actually lives there decides to come out of his hibernation to break it.

#lazy

Earlier this year, the makers of Ingress, Niantic announced that they were implementing new rules – such as banning and terminating accounts of people who uses data scraping tools to hunt for guardian portals. While it did help decrease the amount of cheaters, it didn’t deter some of these people and instead they changed their gameplay to break these portals at around 135 days instead to avoid looking too obvious.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

(This portal behind me reached 148 days)

Eventually, Niantic decided to solve this issue by rewarding users who have 80 days and above with the Platinum (instead of 90) and 140 days and above with the Onyx (instead of 150) medals – on the unanticipated date of the second of April. Imagine the uproar if would be if it were on the first instead. 😂

Honestly, I’m pleasantly surprised at my new medal. Even though I’ve been playing ingress since March 2014, I’ve eventually given up any hope of getting that particular achievement because I’m an active player, making me a good target. And each time without fail, any of my portals reaching 140+ days would get smashed.

Which is why I’ve waited for today for writing this post. Even though I’ve already had the medal for over a month now, it feels quite meaningful.

rinaz.net Ingress Guardian

I understand that that’s part of the gameplay – to break your opponent’s portal but waiting that long to smash it, is just bad sportsmanship.

Nevertheless, I’m thankful for my nice new medal – its a nice addition and has helped me in my global ranking. The next Onyx medals that I’m working on is the Engineer and the Liberator. That’ll take me several months to complete, but I’m in no rush.

Before I end this post, guess what happened to these guardian hunters? Ever since I’ve gotten my medals, I very rarely see them logging in. It’s as if they’ve given up completely. It’s kind of sad actually, all those time, fuel and effort and for what?

rinaz.net Rihanna twirls hair

Nyeh nyeh nyeh!

You can wear my baju kurong

So not too long ago, there was this American girl who wore a cheongsam for her prom. A cheongsam, as you know, is Chinese dress, usually made of cotton or silk and is designed to accentuate the female curves. It’s gorgeous, making it something that a lot of women, even non the Chinese, interested to wear them.

I think she looks cute in it, even if I would have styled the hair different and think the pose in the third picture looks awkward.

However, there was a guy who took offence to it, saying that it was inappropriate for her to wear it for prom. I get the feeling that the guy is being a troll, in the sense that he wants attention by spouting vitriol and doesn’t actually believe in what he is spouting.

Why would he? Even Chinese people in China doesn’t have an issue with it like how you see in the video below :

Personally for me, I think I’d be happy if someone was interested enough to wear my cultural outfits. In fact, I’d be proud for them to wear a beautiful Baju Kurong or a Kebaya to a nice event.

Back in school, once a year, we were even encouraged to wear a different outfits for racial harmony day. A lot of of were excited for this day, because it was a chance for us to wear something different instead of our normal uniforms and it was fun exchanging and trying out outfits with each other. Racism would not even cross our minds as we don the clothes.

(My gosh, this picture was taken 20 years ago)

Why is it so bad that we wear other cultural outfits? I can understand with certain cultures, you need to be of a certain class to be able to wear them – like how it is for wearing the headdress for the Native American tribes.

But for the rest, we shouldn’t have to feel afraid to wear something beautiful, in case that someone would feel offended because we’d be misappropriating their culture.

Burn house beat mother

I mean, if you really want to be pissed off at cultural misappropriation, be pissed off at something that makes more sense – like someone who has never eaten rendang before, telling you how to cook rendang.

With that logic, I should just wear a sarong all year round, even when the temperature drops to minus zero degrees during the winter in Rome. I should stop wearing jeans because it’s only meant for cowboys and miners. And while I’m at it, I should stop learning to dance flamenco because I’m not Spanish, stop learning Italian because I’m not Italian and don’t eat sushi, burrito, paella and all the delicious food in the world.

What nonsense.

Visiting a Cat Cafe in Rome

Laura is an interesting person who I met by chance many years ago while participating in the Maratona di Roma. We’ve kept in touch through social media. She was in Rome earlier this year and we decided to catch up.

rinaz.net Romeow Cat Bistrot

(Picture stolen from Laura)

Since she was game enough to try a vegan joint and loves cats, I decided to bring her to the cat cafe in Garbatella. I’ve never been here before and have always wanted to visit, so it was a good opportunity for the both of us.

Garbatella by itself is an interesting area, so many things to see here, easy to reach by the metro and full of colourful murals such as this one :

rinaz.net Porto Fluviale

Before you know it, we reached the cafe. From the outside, it looked quite unassuming. But when you get in, it looked so cosy and inviting, especially with their resident cats.

I’ve been to other cat cafe, but most of the cats there seemed anti social – shying away when you try to approach them. Which is understandable when you think about the number of guests who have tried to cuddle with them day after day. But the cats here were amazingly chill and adorable. They didn’t mind you cuddling with them.

rinaz.net Romeow Cat Bistrot

Almost everywhere you turn, there would be something interesting to see, making this cafe extremely instagrammable.

Laura and I were quite hungry then, so we ordered the food which looked interesting. And between us, we had :

Tempura all’erba cipollina con maionese all’aceto balsamico e salsa spicy

rinaz.net Romeow Cat Bistrot

Patatas Bravas

rinaz.net Romeow Cat Bistrot

Dahl croccante su salsa pink raw allo zenzero

rinaz.net Romeow Cat Bistrot

Riso rosso al mango cocco con broccoli e cavolfiore saltati al peperoncino e lime

rinaz.net Romeow Cat Bistrot

(Picture stolen from Laura)

Mousse cake

rinaz.net Romeow Cat Bistrot

The food here was delicious albeit on the pricey side with the price of each dish starting from 7 euro. But I guess it was okay for the once as a while treat. I especially liked Laura’s rice and would definitely get that the next time I’m there.

rinaz.net Romeow Cat Bistrot

And in the middle of our meal, I had an interesting talk with Laura – what she’s been up to, her ventures and what she’s been doing during her free time. I admire her in that she’s so courageous, being brave in travelling to different countries for example, and trying to set up her photography business.

If you haven’t seen her photographs, come and take a peek here. She’s very very good!

To end here is an instagram stories montage of our trip there 🙂

Romeow Cat Bistrot
Via Francesco Negri, 15, 00154 Roma