Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Westmeath: Body & Soul Festival 2017

The past weekend was filled with magic, wonder, and spontaneity as Lorcan and I went to the Body and Soul Festival in Westmeath. It was my very first time going to a festival as well as going camping - so I was super excited. 

We chose to camp at the 'Us and You' campsite where people were required to clean up after themselves and not leave any rubbish - the great part was that it was the nearest campsite to the car park so we didn't have to lug our stuff for too long. Thanks to James, we had an amazing tent! Thanks so much for lending it to us for the weekend.

Also, to make things even more exciting, we rented a car and I drove us from Castlebar to Westmeath! It's been almost four years since I drove so it was definitely fun to be behind the wheel again.

Thankfully, Lorcan was well-versed with camping and festivals so we were all pitched pretty quickly so we could go and explore the festival grounds!

There were loads of different stages as well as food options! We brought some food with us which lasted us for the Friday but we ate to our heart's content on the Saturday and Sunday. We had gourmet burgers, pizzas from the Big Blue Bus, Umi Falafel, buffalo chicken wings, crepes, donuts, coffee, and more.

And one of our favourites was Jaru's Korean BBQ - beef bulgogi with purple rice! So much flavour! The prices weren't too exorbitant either as the most expensive dish was probably 12 for the pizza.

The Woodlands area was definitely our favourite as it was just so magical!

We didn't really have any plans to see specific acts. We just wandered around the place stumbling upon cool acts such as NcGray at the Pagoda Stage, drum performances at the Woodlands Stage, open mic sessions at Arbutus Yans,  sean nos workshops and intriguing talks at Wonderlust.

There was even a section where Trinity's Science Gallery ''Soundcheck" exhibition was on! Several of the trees had sensors placed on them which allowed people to create music by hitting the trees with sticks. 

Thanks to baby wipes and dry shampoo, we both looked pretty fly over the three day festival. Yay for extra festival bling! The fashion at the festival was extremely hilarious. From onesies to inflatable dinosour suits, everything was acceptable.

The weather held up pretty well over the weekend with the odd shower which was easy enough to hide from in the tent. There were some really hot sunny days where we had to smother on the sun cream, so I would say we definitely got a pretty decent weekend!

What made the festival all the more fun was that I got to meet up with some buddies! Firstly, Denise (in the photo) performed some spoken word on the Saturday which was absolutely mind-blowing. Secondly, I got to meet Stuey by chance as he was working as one of the videographers for The Irish Times in the Wanderlust Stage. Thirdly, I got to chill out with Cillian on the grass while we enjoyed pizza, beer, wine, and the acts on the main stage.

The Midnight Circus tent was also pretty amazing with all its flashing lights and loud music.

Perfect for a good ol' rave.

I loved the vibe at Body and Soul. It was just so chill, bohemian, and varied! We really enjoyed ourselves being able to find random and cool acts wherever we went!  Definitely wanna go back next year!!

Friday, 16 June 2017

Taste of Dublin: Happy Tummies, Happy Hearts

For those who know me well, they know I love food.
I don't know if there's any moment in time where I'm not thinking about it - what groceries to buy, what to cook, what to eat - they're pretty much the thoughts that occupy my mind 24/7.

So when I heard there is a food festival right in the centre of Dublin I was super excited and wanted to go! 

Basically, Taste of Dublin is a collaboration of well-known eateries, food companies, chefs, who came together to share their tasty treats with us. They used florins as their currency on-site, which were basically money tokens. 

Since food tastes way better when shared, I brought another foodie along with me!
We went for the Friday lunch slot from 12-4PM and got online tickets with the lovinlunch voucher code for €18.75 each. This also entitled us to 12 free florins!

So really we only had to pay €6.75 for the entry to the festival in contrast to those who arrived on the day and had to pay €20 just for entry and zero florins!

The first place we stopped by was the Infusion by Barry's Tea where we got a lovely free taster of two of their tea-infused cocktails. They had a traffic light cocktail concoction going on there and they were absolutely delicious.

The three flavours they had were:-

1) Green Tea Mojito - Barry’s Green Tea, Skyy vodka, basil syrup, fresh mint, lime, and soda water 

 2) Berry Fizz - Barry’s Very Berry, Hendrick's Gin, cranberry juice, Irish Elderflower Cordial, fresh lemon,  and soda water. 

 3) Golden DEW - Barry’s Gold Blend, Tullamore D.E.W., ginger & Irish Honey Syrup, lime. and ginger ale.

We eyed up some sinful treats by The Cupcake Bloke but we decided to hunt for proper food first before munching on desserts.

Next, Callum, spotted the SO Prosecco truck, his weakness.

So we had some Prosecco at about lunch time. Acceptable time I would think.

Then we learnt that it was Tapas Day! And one of the girls manning the signs asked if we wanted a free Polaroid, so why not?!

Then, we obviously had to eat some tapas made by The Porthouse

So, we had the Paella of Rabbit, Duck, Chicken, Green and White Beans.

We discovered the chill beanbag area!! Unfortunately, all the beanbags were taken so.... 
Alas, we did not get to relax on them but we managed to wander off to more important things..

Our greedy eyes veered over to Wines of Rioja.
We went a little wild at this place and got three dishes. First we got some tortilla (Spanish omelette).

We also go the Chorizo al Vino (oh so delicious).

And the Pulpo - octopus (I loved it!)

To make the food go down well, some live music was lovely to have - with a random few people in the crowd dancing around to The Swing Cats.

Also, the weather was absolutely perfect for all this food, fun, and frenzy.

Our stomachs wandered off to the Taste of Thailand section!

The Thai food stall was manned We got some delicious Thai food made by Saba!

Behold, a lovely lamb curry with red and brown rice topped with some greenery.

We got a couple of wine tasters thanks to Beaujolais Wines, who came all the way from France! 
I personally know nothing about wine but Callum did, and thanks to him we got to sample several different wines!

There was a wide, wide selection of different alcoholic drinks on the green - wine, cocktails, beer, you name it.

Along with all of that, the festival was filled with free tasters (which was great). For example, we got some free cookies by The Dublin Cookie Company, shrimp pasta by Barilla, bread with garlic butter by Improper Butter, and coffee from Lavazza.

As we came to a close with our savoury dishes, we looked around for dessert and found a cute little Gino's Gelato car. But, since we tend to get Gino's relatively often, we decided to veer off to find more.

So we got desserts by Couverture Premium Dessert instead!

I had the Belgian Chocolate Mousse while Callum had the Raspberry and White Chocolate Mousse!

I also then got a little Portuguese egg tart from The Natural Bakery to go.

After making a last stop at the Barry's Infusion Cocktail Bar for a final green tea mojito, we both left with our tummies and hearts filled. Definitely a little bit on the pricey side if not for the fallen florins that we found but...

I'll be back next year!!

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Everyday Racism in Dublin

It was a drizzly day in Dublin, I had just gotten off the train at Heuston Station and was waiting for the Luas (tram). An elderly Irish woman and her husband were asking around for directions and I offered to help them since we were going in the same direction anyway. They seemed like they were grandparents visiting their children in Dublin as the man was holding a brand new baby carrier (probably as a gift). So why not help?

Things started off wonderful, they were really friendly. They lady told me they were from Limerick but the man had a North American accent (I then later found out he was also Canadian). Interestingly, they also said they built a house by the Lakeside Hotel in Ballina when they were younger (nearby the place where I lived during my first three years in Ireland).

Then, the typical question came about.

"You're not really from around here, are you?" the man asked with eyebrows raised.

I could see from his facial expressions and body language that he was trying to figure out my background - why I was here, why I sounded slightly Irish, but yet did not look the part.

He then asked if I was from Indonesia. From this question, I could see that he probably knew a little bit more about the differences in South East Asia or East Asia. So yes, I was a little impressed. I told him the typical summary - I was from Malaysia but I had lived in Ireland for seven years, so I picked things up along the way and adapted.

"Only seven years? It's amazing how you've absolutely embodied the ways of the Irish."

I took it as a compliment, he seemed genuinely kind and intrigued. He actually went on about his amazement that I have only been here for seven years for a good few minutes. I mean I get it, I don't expect others to understand my situation. I'm used to the assumptions that I'm not from here, and it's all fun and good when it's genuine interest to learn.

We continued chatting as we got on the Luas and he seemed to know a little bit about Malaysia. He told me he had Malaysian friends who were of Chinese and Indian heritage. This went on to the topic of racial discrimination within Malaysia and I just informed him of the facts that Malaysians are able to be legally discriminated against in education/work opportunities based on one's racial heritage. For example, as my great-grandparents came from China, there are certain universities in Malaysia which I cannot apply to as I am not of the Malay or bumiputera race (this is a simplified illustration of course, but it's just to get the point across). We were just talking facts, not opinions.

Suddenly, his voice volume decreased and he came closer to ask a question.

"Is it true that the Malays are more stupid in comparison to the Chinese and Indians in Malaysia?"

I was slightly taken aback, but I laughed it off saying that these were just stereotypes perpetuated within the country but they're not facts. I elaborated on my personal experiences in secondary school where my class had all races performing both well and badly in examinations.

"But truthfully though, aren't they less capable, just like how studies have shown that people from Africa have lower levels of IQ in comparison to Western countries?"

This stunned me. Excuse me? Are you just trying to say White people are proven to be smarter than Black people? You're actually overtly saying this? Wow. I knew of the studies he talked about. I learnt about them in my Psychology and Sociology classes. But, these studies were heavily critiqued for having biased samples, unfair advantage to children in Western countries as they were more trained in their education system to answer questions within IQ tests, researcher bias, and much more.

I felt like exploding with all of these counterattacks. But, we were in a crowded Luas. It was in the middle of the day. This was a man in his 60s who looked like he meant well at the start, I didn't want to start an argument.

"Malaysia has a patenting system right? Which races make the most patents?"

Why would I know the statistics of patents in Malaysia in the first place? Also, even if the statistics did have racial differences, that could just be a product of other societal factors. I was just up to my ears in trying to hide my disgust with a smile.

I suggested that other factors like cultural and socio-economic advantages could lead to systematic differences between races in IQ tests. This, however, does not mean that being of a certain race leads you to be innately smarter or more stupid. I stated my case that I strongly do not believe in that whatsoever. I also elaborated on how societal and parental expectations may affect a child's motivation to study harder or to expect high educational performance - as I personally felt and saw that when I was studying in Malaysia. Some of my Malaysian friends with Chinese or Indian heritage felt the need to study harder to obtain a university scholarship post secondary school in case they were not accepted into public universities.

"Are you a Sociology student?" 

Yes, and I also did Psychology.

"Your thinking may be an idealistic take on the subject but is it really the truth?
And you did Psychology too? Hmm........"

He looked slightly puzzled when I said I did Psychology, as if he expected me to agree with his opinion of innate racial IQ differences (as many of these studies ''proving" racial differences of IQ involved psychologists).

By this time, I could just feel all the people surrounding us listening in. Even his wife was quiet the entire time sitting down. I could see that he strongly believed that racial differences in IQ were innate and there was no point in arguing. I just felt so distressed at how someone could believe that so wholeheartedly.

We parted ways when the Luas arrived at our destination. I could see his wife being slightly apologetic towards me for having to engage in such a conversation. He on the other hand, smiled at me with a kind of look that I was a sort of millennial child with over optimistic and idealistic views of humanity.

That's okay with me.
I would rather not support the belief that our skin colour and heritage determines our intelligence.


This is all based on my own recollection. So of course, the quotes are paraphrased. But, I tried my best to remember the things I heard that day.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Dublin: Yerim visits from Korea!

I first met Yerim two years ago when I went to Korea for the first time. 
She was the sister of my friend's friend and I ended up getting to know her quite well! 
Suddenly, I found out that she's actually on an Erasmus programme in Poland.
So I immediately asked her to come visit Dublin when she could so I could bring her around.

And bring her around I did!
The weather was fabulous on the first two days she was here so we had some burrito bowls from Mama's Revenge at the Pav.

Next we headed to the famous Howth to enjoy the breeze and sunny rays.

Since she hasn't had Korean food in awhile, we headed to Kimchi on Parnell Street for some kimchi jeongol with pork 김치 전골 , spicy chicken wings, and duck teriyaki.

Then we headed to Vicar Street to watch Foil, Arms and Hog live in action.
The lads were hilarious to watch in-person and they were really good at spontaneously improvising. 
Thank goodness we weren't in the front few tables as boy, did they get involved.

We made a friend, Suyeon 수연 along the way who was also travelling in Ireland and she joined us on one of the days. Unfortunately, the weather was pretty cruel on Saturday with its lashing rain. 
So, I brought them around Trinity, to see the Book of Kells, the Long Room, the Museum Building, the usual. 

And of course, we had to have some tasty food in our tummies - at Queen of Tarts.

Queen club sandwich filled with chicken, bacon, tomatoes, lettuce, etc. and sweet potato soup.

Mushroom and Gruyere cheese omelette

Coconut almond cake

Chocolate, almond, and pear, tart

Raspberry cheesecake

Irish coffee


Eating healthy has recently become a thing of the past. Hah. I'll get back to that soon...