So let me attempt to revive this dying space with my thoughts about thesis. Can't believe that the day that we've all been waiting for for the past year has finally arrived?!?!


And because I'm such a sucker for writing reflections and after-thoughts, let me pen it down here...

(Well, you don't have to read it, it's for me to take stock of my life moments HAHA.)

Pre-thesis thoughts
As always, a few concerns and questions before deciding to write a thesis. Basically two main concerns - will I be able to write 12,000?! Will going for an internship in the summer holidays affect my time for thesis?  I mean, ok, I guess all along I knew I was gonna write a thesis because I wanted to? I wanted to have the space and freedom to write about a topic that I was passionate about, and to link it to geography too. It was gonna be a challenge, but at the start of Y3S2, I guess I was very gungho and said - yes I'm gonna do it. And also partly cos the years in uni kinda made me feel that writing a thesis is the hallmark of final year school hahaha and so it wouldn't be 'complete' in a sense if I didn't do it. (I know that that's not true luh haha it's just my perspective LOL.)

Idea conceptualisation
I will always remember this fondly. I was on exchange in Y3S1, and I tried out Couchsurfing (CS) for the first time. I don't know how it happened, but I just suddenly had this idea to write about CS even before I started doing it on the trip! Hahaha. Though of course, the actual framework and all wasn't out yet, but I knew I wanted to write about this topic. And so, in all my excitement, I actually prepared sample questions to interview my CS hosts!! LOL indeed. But those were very basic questions luh in the end I didn't use it cos the target group wasn't overseas hosts haha.

Really thankful that I got to go on CS during my exchange, which really opened my eyes and heart to the goodness and kindness in humanity. It's really faith in humanity restored, to experience such generosity and warmth from strangers! This really touched my heart, and I became very intrigued by how such relationships on CS can be formed so fast and so genuinely? Well, of course it's not always all positive and there are unpleasant experiences that people face on CS. But those are the minority, and I'm grateful that my experiences so far are all very positive. It really transformed my travels and the memories I take away from the place. (Ok I feel like at this point imma breakout into an argument of my thesis so I shall stop LOL.) So yeah, those relationships were my inspiration for this thesis topic, and I link it to the geographical concept of place (i.e. place making, sense of place).

This is easily the most enjoyable part of my thesis journey!! Really super eye-opening and I was so, so enriched by the fieldwork process. I met up with hosts and surfers in Singapore and followed them around or joined them in the activities that were doing together. It need not be an outing per se, just eating at home counts too. The main point is to observe their interactions. Then I interviewed them separately.

Every fieldwork has its challenges, and I faced my fair share too. It was so hard to find hosts in Singapore who were currently hosting at the moment, and even if they are, it's also difficult to find a common time for all three parties to meet! Many, many last minute changes, and a lot of times we only settle the date and time to meet like, one hour before?! Sighhh.

But I really, really felt very inspired by the hosts and surfers. Their perspectives, their worldviews, their love for travelling. And they're so open-minded and generous, I feel like it was hard for me to be an objective researcher HAHA (positionality here). Lol but ok. The conversations that we had really broadened my perspective. That life is really not about studies alone (which made me feel a bit sheepish right there and then that I'm so stressed over my thesis). I guess I'm even more motivated to make travel a part of my life. It doesn't have to be career-wise, but to continue to live my dream of travelling around the world, whenever I can. (Of course, it made me even more resolved to continuously save up to fund these travels!!)

Needless to say, this is the worstttt part! It was very tiring and draining because... I was struggling with my conceptual framework. Ok I won't elaborate so much on that. But yeah there were many many times where I felt so inferior, like my capabilities are just too limited to do a thesis. To be honest, it got so bad to the point where I started regretting a little on deciding to even write this thesis in the first place... Why I so 不自量力, so persistent on writing the thesis and landing myself in this state... But of course, there needs to be a turnaround, and I cannot just wallow in self pity.

Post-thesis thoughts
And so today, I've submitted my thesis, and it's such a huge, huge, HUGE RELIEF!! It's been a very long and tough journey, but I'm very heartened and glad that I've learnt so much from this. I know, for one, that I'm not a good academic writer. But it was a challenge that I took up and I told myself not to regret this.

One thing about me is that I tend to be very affected by people around me, which makes me compare inevitably. It gave me a lot of stress, and I really don't like this part of me, and I'm still changing it. Really, I keep telling myself to focus on the important things, that giving in your best is enough. Don't compare to anyone, stop feeling so inferior. Everyone is different and everyone has different strengths.

Thesis was also a very individual and independent journey. You're the only one working on the topic, you're the only one who knows your topic/argument/structure inside out. There's no one else to turn to for immediate, direct advice. Not even your thesis supervisor can know your exact problem that you face, because sometimes you just can't quite put it in words. So what do you do? No choice. Just plough on. My brain has been wrecked up down left right many times feeling confused over what exactly I'm trying to argue for. I just had to cope on my own in various ways, to tide over the stressful and lost moments. 

I know there was already an acknowledgements page in the e-copy of the thesis. But of course, who and what I'm really thankful for cannot be squeezed into that one page. 

My friends have been very encouraging and helpful, both in helping me sharpen my framework, and also in the moral support. I really value your company a lot, because it reminds me that I'm not struggling in this alone. That I know that we're all working hard together, and we can and will celebrate on the day of submission. In December when stress levels peak and when day in day out was just writing and writing and writing, life was sooo mundane and my morale was rather low. But I'm very thankful for friends whom I got to meet up with and talk over a meal. I really look forward to meet ups like this because it's a break for me, and also forces me to not think/talk thesis. Well, of course I do end up ranting about thesis stress, and thank you friends so much for listening. You don't need to give advice, but really, your presence and company is more than enough for me.

My family has been giving me quiet support too. I'm sorry for the times where my bad mood infected y'all. But I treasure the simple things, like yummy homecooked dinners, turning the television volume down so that I can concentrate on my work (I don't like to close the room door cos it gets stuffy inside). I appreciate everything that y'all did for me to have a conducive environment to study. And most importantly, for the love and constant reminder that life is not all about grades. :) Yes mum, don't worry, I know that. :)

Being in a long-distance relationship added to the challenge of writing a thesis, and yet, writing a thesis was also strenuous for an LDR. Before Reuben flew off, I was worried on how I were to cope with his absence, given that I'm such an emotional person and I get stressed easily. So all these definitely isn't good for someone writing a 12k-word paper and having to manage her well being with her significant other being away. Kept telling myself to be that same independent Rachel that I was/am all along, to pace myself, to take things in my stride. But of course, there were so many times I just crumbled under the stress of it all. It wasn't healthy for our relationship, because I ended up passing a lot of unnecessary stress to Reuben. I even got tired of hearing those "you can do it" from him, because that same old line has lost its effect on me. Likewise, it affected my mood for writing too and it just made the task more daunting and seemingly un-doable.

But through it all, thank you for being so so patient, reassuring, and encouraging towards me. I feel like I don't deserve all this, because just as it wasn't easy for me, it wasn't easy for you either. I tried my best to support you as well while staying focused on myself, and I'm reminded time and time again that the world does not revolve around me/my thesis. I'm so glad that God pulled us through and kept us grounded the whole time. I'm really very thankful for your listening ear, for telling me to forge on and for always believing in me. And for reminding me that there is a concrete goal at the end of thesis to look forward to. And that made me work hard.

So I'd like to think that the worst is over for our LDR? Haha... The conclusion of this thesis is hopefully the start of another more pleasant and loving phase in our relationship. :)

I think one of my happiest achievement from thesis is that I really got to encounter God so much more. Sometimes you get so caught up with your own plans and own vision that you forget that God is sovereign over all. When fieldwork plans change last minute, I get frustrated, think that I'm doomed, and all sorts of negative feelings. But He always has a plan for us, to lead us onto pathways that are better for us. So many times I've been blessed by His intervention, and I really thank God for that.

This period has also seen me really trying my best to surrender to Him. Human beings can only do so much. I worry about this, worry about that. But all that is for nothing, because if you can't change it, why worry? Same thing, I worry about the potential shitty grade that I'm gonna get for my thesis, because I think it's not well written. While I was still writing, I kept praying for wisdom, for God to lead me in the right direction of developing my thesis and arguments and all. And now that it's submitted, all the more I pray that I'll be able to surrender it all to Him, for He knows what's best for me. Whether or not I do well for it, it's all in His hands.

Last but not least, since thesis is a very individual thing, many times I felt very lonely and lost. And what happens when no one can understand your situation? I pause, take a few deep breaths, and pray. To be aware once again that Christ is always beside me to journey with me, to comfort me, to be my guiding light amidst the darkness. To give me strength and courage to go on. 

So the past few months have really been a period of immense growth, both personal, and in my relationship with the people around me and God. I am heartened that I really can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and I will look back on this thesis journey with bittersweet memories. Till now, I still can't believe that the submission day has come?! First day of Y4S2, aka final sem, but right now I'm just... living in a happy bubble that I'm finally done with the most stressful part of uni life. :)

What's next? Let me enjoy my holiday first before I tune my heart and mind back to school. HAHA.

The Botanist Café is yet another new entrant to the cluster of cafes at the Outram Park/Tanjong Pagar area. Having opened late last year, this café has managed to attract some attention on social media, both for the food and for the aesthetics of the place.

With the main entrance at the side of the corner shophouse unit, this café has two sections – indoor and semi-outdoor seating areas. The indoor seats are limited, and while it’s air-conditioned, it’s located just beside the kitchen, hence you risk smelling like what you ate after stepping out of the café. The outdoor dining area is furnished with communal tables, and true to the café’s garden theme, the walls are decorated with vertical plants to give a relaxing and tranquil atmosphere, as if truly dining amidst lush greenery.

Moving on to the food and drinks, the menu offers a couple of side dishes and mostly Melbourne-inspired brunch and main dishes. The Iced White Coffee ($5.50) was smooth and not too acidic, with the coffee beans sourced from their co-owned Knockhouse Supply Co., located on the second storey of the same shophouse.

Carbonara Tagliatelle ($18)

One of the two pasta dishes on the menu is the Carbonara Tagliatelle ($18), cooked in cream with bacon and mushroom, and topped with a sous-vide egg and parmesan shavings. Mix them all up and you get a concoction of flavours – the salty bacon cutting through the richness of the cream, and the sautéed mushrooms giving that earthy tones to balance out the dish. Perhaps if we could nitpick, it would be that the deep-dish bowl it came served in was a little hard to eat. Otherwise this was a pretty well executed pasta.

Brioche French Toast ($18)

If you’d like to start your day on a sweet note, then the French Toast ($18) is the one for you. Two triangular pieces of fried brioche, each sandwiched with rhubarb marmalade jam, are beautifully plated with an assortment of fresh berries, almond flakes, poached pear and vanilla ice cream. The brioche retained its fluffiness after being pan-fried, and the generous amount of berries provided that slightly sourish tang amidst the sweetness of the jam and vanilla ice cream. This is a dish that tastes as good as it looks.

The Botanist café sure knows how to capture the hearts of café-goers here as it scores on its pleasant and charming space, and delicious, Instagram-worthy food. With no GST and service charge, the prices here are reasonable. If only they could introduce a few dessert offerings, then that would make it the perfect place to chill and while the afternoon away. 

The Botanist
74 Neil Road
Singapore 088839
Tues - Sun 0800 - 1800

Closed on Mondays

I had the privilege of attending a food tasting at Froth Cafe (or maybe a restaurant now) where they had a revamped menu in conjunction with their shift in location from BIG Hotel to Ascott in Raffles Place.

Like their previous location, the space here is also big, with a sleek white and black theme to go with their classy image at this upscale apartment.

There is a side of the restaurant that can double up as a private function room with the doors you see above.

As you can see from their new menu above, the chef incorporates the Asian elements into what we usually know as traditional Western fares. We tried a few of them and let's see the verdict below...

Speculoos Milkshake ($14.90++) and Iced Lychee Tea ($4.90++)
We ordered our own drinks and were recommended the Iced Lychee Tea, which was refreshing but a bit too sweet. As a speculoos lover, I decided to try their milkshake which was good! Creamy and milky and rich in speculoos flavour. A tad on the sweet side once again, and so diabetes inducing oh gosh.

Lobster Jelly ($22.90++) 

Chilled lobster chunks with tomato jelly, marinated vine cherry tomatoes, wasabi and ginger powder, edible flowers and cresses. The lobster meat was fresh and full of bite, while it was interesting to eat it in a cold jelly.

Hot and Cold Foie Gras ($23.90++)

Pan seared foie gras on toasted brioche with pomegranate and truffle honey apple reduction; chilled foie gras on crushed sable with kiwi, cherry and granny smith slaw. To be honest I've only eaten foie gras once before this so I'm not in a good position to judge this dish! Hahaha. But the foie gras was soft, chewy and tasty, and I preferred the hot one to the cold one.

Five Spice Wagyu Beef Burger ($34.90++) 

Homemade five spice wagyu patty wrapped in crispy beancurd skin, with baby arugula and tomatoes on a soft brioche burger bun. This burger is very interesting - the chef combined our local ngoh hiang ingredients into the wagyu beef patty! So you can taste the water chestnut and the spices of the ngoh hiang are distinct too. The beef patty was thick and is definitely the star of the dish. The brioche buns were soft and fluffy too.

Siobak Aglio ($25.90++)

Another intriguing dish is this one, where the combination of roast pork belly actually fits very well with the Aglio Olio-style linguine pasta! The pork was tender and nicely roasted, while the linguine itself was very flavourful I could just eat it on its own! Thumbs up for creativity and execution of this dish!

Seafood Tom Yum Risotto ($29.90++) 

Not a fan of risotto but this was good and the texture was just right, while the tom yum taste was distinct but not overpowering. The seafood was fresh too. Extra points for the beautiful presentation! Haha.

Ponzu Soya Cod ($35.90++)

Glazed cod with wasabi edamame puree, smoked mash, baby peaches and bak choy. This is another of my favourite dish here! I love cod fish and this was very tender and soft! However, for the price I pay, I'd prefer the serving to be larger.

French Toast Waffles ($16.90++) 

It's dessert time! Now while the idea of french toast waffles isn't new, I love this rendition of the already-creative dish. The waffles turned out crispy as they're half baked in the waffle maker then dipped into egg custard and deep fried likka french toast. Plus it's served with goreng pisang and cereal oat crumbles, topped with a scoop of ice cream (which is toasted marshmallows for this). Mmm the whole combination was sinfully good!

The food here definitely has quality and I admire the chef for such innovative Asian-Western fusion food. The ambience is lovely too, so I guess all these justifies the price you're paying? It's a good place for a couple dinner or catch up with friends, so you may wanna check out this place next time. :) Thank you Froth for hosting us and Justin for extending the invite to me!

2 Finlayson Green
Ascott Raffles Place Singapore
Singapore 049247
Mon - Sun 1130 - 2200

Soek Seng 1954 Bicycle Cafe is a place I chanced upon on social media. It was only one post but that post totally captured my attention. Why?

This. Because of this view.

This cafe is located just beside the Seletar Airport runway! Ok the view may not very pretty and all but it is very very relaxing! Imagine watching aeroplanes taking off and landing beside you as you dine alfresco.

Besides the outdoor seats there are also plenty of indoor seats for those hiding from the heat. As the name suggests, their decor follows a bicycle theme so they have all the bicycles on their walls etc.

In terms of the food and drinks, they offer a mix of Western, Japanese and local food. I forgot to take a picture of the menu oops but the variety is alright, a few dishes from each cuisine.

Sirloin Steak ($15.90)
My father had this dish and he wanted it medium (if I remember correctly). Do note that it came in one slab, I just cut a bit to stack on top of the other for photographic purposes hahaha. The steak came with french fries and a very small portion of lettuce. Unfortunately, the steak was tough and lacked in flavour.

Unatama Don ($7.80)
This dish is thankfully much better. I am impressed with this humble but superb bowl of Unatama Don! Firstly, the price point already wins me over. First time I see an unagi don under $10! Not counting food courts, of course. I initially expected the unagi to be the food court kind - thin with a thick layer of fats. But no, the piping hot bowl consists of thick slabs of unagi mixed with the egg, served on a huge serving of Japanese sushi rice!

Look at the unagi! I love it so much - it was so flavourful and even better than some Japanese restaurants, in fact! I will definitely come back and order this again.

A panoramic view of the outdoor seating area facing the runway. (: It was a very relaxing evening and I enjoyed my dinner. I think the Jap food is better than the Western selections, though I can't say I've tried everything. Prices are rather reasonable, only thing is that this place is only (more) accessible by private transport, i.e. cars or taxi. But I'll definitely return for the ambience. (:

Soek Seng 1954 Bicycle Cafe
MAJ Aviation Building
80 Seletar Aerospace View
Singapore 797563
Tues - Thurs 1000 - 2200
Fri - Sat 1000 - 2300
Sun 1000 - 2200
Kitchen closed from 1500 - 1700
Closed on Mondays

Singapore's first bacon-centric cafe has revamped its menu! This time, instead of focusing only on bacon, they have included others like salmon, crab and chicken dishes as well.

Jasmine Makes My Green Come True ($6.50) on the left and Hersheys Iced Chocolate ($6.50) on the right. I had the latter and it was really rich! They use Hershey's chocolate so it's guaranteed to please the chocolate-lovers out there.

Mini Bacon Bomb ($12)

This was an accidental cheese porn shot hahaha. The Bacon Bomb used to be a main by itself, but OMB has since shrank it to 3 bite-sized balls, and it is meant to be a sharing dish. These balls are mini pork fritters stuffed with cheese and wrapped with bacon and house made chilli sauce.

They were very flavourful, with the minced pork having a good bite to it, and the whole dish elevated by the sauce! Plus, the cheese on the bottom of the pan was a good addition too. I like how the serving size is just right now, compared to previously when it was one huge roll that was difficult to slice.

Chilli Softshell Crab ($16)

Turkish toast, fried softshell crab, coleslaw, poached eggs with green chilli sauce. Poke that eggg hehehe. I realise I was taking a lot of photos of the flowy egg when the centre of attention should be the the softshell crab haha. Fried to perfection with a thin batter encasing it, the softshell crab was delicious, but perhaps it could be a bit bigger? Everything else was good but my friend felt the green chilli sauce a little out of place.

Bacon Croque Monsieur ($12)

I have a soft spot for brioche and cheese hence this was a clear option for me. It consisted of crispy bacon, bechamel sauce and a trio of cheese. There were onions inside too, which I wish they could have stated it in the description because I don't like onions oops. That aside, this dish was ordinary, and tasted quite one dimensional after a while. The brioche was a bit burnt at the side. Presentation could also be improved.

Some hits and misses, but I think if you stick to their bacon dishes, you should be rather safe. Click here to read about my previous visit and the food that I've tried!

7 Dunlop Street
Singapore 209337
Tues - Fri 1200 - 2200
Sat 0830 - 2200
Sun 0830 - 1800
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