Not today.

Only when we stop changing that we give death a chance to takeover.

WE MOVE forward in life and the memories of the departed go with us.

My latest journey has taught me to appreciate the people who are present, give chance to the people who have wronged us, and love people in spite and despite their imperfections.

Travel young, learn big, live your life, and keep on improving. Only when we stop changing that we give death a chance to takeover.

Let us ponder and work to ensure that the things that stick us closer together should be far greater than the things that divide us.

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A eulogy for Nadz: what was there and from now on.

How do you even replace the best man? He was the best. He is the best.

To the family, friends, and acquaintances of Nadz, he has touched my life in more ways than one.

Nadz was always there.

Nadz was there when I felt nobody was; one of the very few friends who were there all the way through the best and worst times.

Nadz was there to be my concert buddy: belting our favorite duet “Habang May Buhay.”

Nadz was there to teach me how to become street smarter.

Nadz was there to say the words that other people won’t dare tell me.

Nadz was there to answer the phone call so I can keep myself awake on my way home from a night out.

Nadz was there with unlimited stories of his latest escapades and when he feels ‘kilig’ most of the time.

Nadz was there when I was so scared in a creepy hotel room in Amsterdam — kept me company thru a phone call and only hung up when I fell asleep.

Nadz was there for my family whenever we needed someone to man our business.

Nadz was there to start a chat, as if there was a cosmic connection that alerts him whenever I am not okay.

Nadz was there to fight my battles when I feel so tired and almost gave up fighting them myself.

Nadz was there and made all the effort to meet me even when he was already sick; went too early and waited for me at the office lobby in case I can go out sooner — this despite his mom asking him to stay home because of his condition.

AND from now on, it will be different.

There won’t be a Nadz to cheer up the party.

There won’t be a Nadz to blend voices with in karaoke (How can I even complete singing “Habang May Buhay” now?).

There won’t be a Nadz who obliges to be the wingman.

There won’t be a Nadz to tell me the hard truth when I need to listen.

Also, there won’t be a Nadz present on my wedding day. It will be very difficult: How do you even replace the best man? He was the best. He is the best.

Nadz was always there, and the only way to repay all his effort and kindness is to be there and see him one last time.

The most painful thing is the fact that now, whenever I visit home, there will be no more Nadz.

And that makes all the difference in the world.

This is Xy, broken but still breaking the silence.

Exploring Europe (Part 1)

IT WAS a childhood dream for me to visit Europe. It doesn’t matter which cities or countries at first but when I started planning for my trip back in early 2018, I had to focus on landmarks familiar to me from elementary school lessons. The textbook memories served as a framework for places to visit.

IMG_0121 My plan was to travel light. I brought a navy blue backpack from Country Road for my hand-carry and a yellow American Tourister 69cm luggage for check-in baggage. I love the colours! Been approached a few times by airport staff about how vibrant my luggage is. It is also so easy to spot on the conveyor for pick-up.

London.

Arrived around 8:00pm on October 20, 2018 at the London Gatwick Airport. Since I flew Emirates business (thanks to Qantas Frequent Flyer points), I was dropped off to the hotel via chauffeur services included in the booking. Lancaster Court Hotel’s location is a short 5-min walk to Paddington station (with express services to Heathrow airport, which is perfect for the proceeding journey).

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Buckingham Palace. Change of guards was happening, hence, the crowd.

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London Eye, with wheel diameter of 120m and total height of the structure at 135m.

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Me at the Tower Bridge.

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Here’s also a picture of me at Platform 9 3/4. I forgot, however, to remove my invisibility cloak.

Tip: Make sure you check lift availability when booking your accommodation. I was assigned with a room on level 5 and there’s no lift. I asked for a lower level room but there’s none available (as I’ve been told).

Battling jet-lag, I opted for the 2-day hop-on hop-off tour through Big Bus which started on the next day. It was quite difficult especially for me as I had a few nosebleed incidents (that’s how my body manifests stress).

Big Ben was a disappointment as it was covered and under renovation. All the others attractions/landmarks were great: London Eye, Buckingham Palace, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, and of course Platform 9 3/4 (you’d be familiar if you’re a Potterhead). I was also able to snap a red telephone booth which is one of London’s popular trademarks.

I also tried Padella’s fresh pasta. I came in 20 minutes before opening and I was second in the queue. After a few minutes, I didn’t realise the line was already so long. It was well worth the wait (I didn’t really have to wait that long, but if I was in the back of the queue, it would have been really worth it anyway).

Here’s a sneak peek inside Padella’s kitchen where I was seated in front of. These guys have amazing teamwork that makes the team work!

Berlin.

The city has a rich and interesting, albeit dark history. Streets are amazingly clean and although the weather was raining at times, I pushed booked a bike tour from Fat Tire Bikes. I felt special because everyone clapped when they found out I came all the way from the land down under. Not sure why, but probably they gave me an A for my effort to travel solo that far!

The Berlin Wall Memorial has a very solemn atmosphere. It was quiet even there were several big groups of guided tours, probably to respect the memorial of this old representation of a divided nation.

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Berlin TV Tower.

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Checkpoint Charlie – the third checkpoint opened by the Allies in and around Berlin. Charlie represents the third letter of the NATO phonetic alphabet.

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Museum of the Murdered Jews of Europe.

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Deutscher Bundestag – the House of Parliament.

Bike tours are highly recommended. The streets are bike-friendly and motorists would usually stop to give way to cyclists. The guide mentioned that this is largely attributed to their culture.

Airport travel is through buses that travel to and from the city.

Tip: Get the Berlin Welcome Pass for unlimited travel on public transport. This is really useful when wandering and finding your way around. The train network is pretty simple and easy to understand.