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    Affordorable.com

    is a virtual space where Liyana Aris documents her evolving modest personal style, which is based on the art of looking casually stylish while still remaining modest and doing it all on a budget; about 93% of her closet are filled with affordable things. (PS: The remaining 7% has a lot to do with her secret addiction to Adidas shoes and her occasional splurges on discounted high-end bags and clutches, shhh.) [+]
    20.4.13 .

    Euro trip hangover

    It's been almost a month since i last wrote a post. This isn't intentional, though. I got caught up in the travellings and the hangover that resulted from it. 

    I didn't know i could call it 'hangover'—i was trying to come up with a word that would describe the deflated, tired feeling after following a gruelling schedule for a short while, when i checked the definition of 'hangover' in Merriam-Webster online and found out the word could also mean "a letdown following great excitement or excess", and that word is exactly what i was, and maybe still am, feeling.

    It's been amazing, travelling in Europe. Never in my wildest dreams did i imagine taking trips to different countries in Europe. Coming to stay in Paris (Paris!!!) for almost a year was already a whole other thing, but it still didn't occur to me to do the thing authors in book and people in movies/tv shows always talk about: Euro trip.


    I have Shah to thank for having that dream himself, and i thank Allah for giving us the fortune to achieve Shah's dream.

    Now, if i'm being honest myself, i would have used some of the money to splurge on a really nice, bloody expensive handbag. I spent months browsing through the different handbags, especially those from famous French and other European brands. Oh yes, trust me, i had my eyes on a Chloe one, then Louis Vuitton, and melted when i saw those Pradas. A friend i made here (wait, how do you "make" friends?) bought herself a luscious Celine, and if i had seen the hot pink version of her handbag that i saw on Naomi Campbell's arm, i probably would have caved and begged Shah for it.

    But i am lucky to have met a man of sense and a little stinginess, because even if i had seen the hot pink Celine, he would have emphatically said "NO, Liyana. You want to choose Celine or Spain, Liyana? Choose, Liyana, chooooooooooseee." And i love and adore Shah way too much to take away his dream of travelling to Spain for a handbag that i probably would put aside a few months after using it, and trade for a newer Michael Kors or something. This really does sound like something i would do, regardless the brand or how superb i found the handbag at first sight. Forgotten, out of boredom or for a newer, hotter version. New always wins with me when it comes to handbags and clothes and shoes, and i wonder if this happens to other girls as well? Hm.

    I'm 27 but there's so much growing up to do. Here i learn that memories last longer. Since spring had been winter-like in Europe this year, flowers have been intimidated to come out. Shah and i were on our way to Amsterdam when we stopped by Keukenhof, this well-known flower garden, said to be the largest in the world (thanks, Wiki). There were hardly any flower in the garden itself, but it was beautiful nonetheless, with tall trees and little streams and a really peaceful, serene surroundings. Shah and i were instantly reminded of Christchurch, The Garden City, which we loved, where we studied and first laid eyes on each other (ceh ceh). Christchurch was always so pretty in Spring, and the time between Spring and Summer has always been my favourite.

    But i was completely taken by surprise by the sight in one of Keukenhof's "houses". I think i even gasped as i walked in. This particular building was probably climate-controlled or something, as the whole humongous space was filled with the most beautiful, most breathtaking tulips and lilies and i don't even know what the other flowers are called.

    I'm a girl, i love flowers but i love chocolates more, plus i find flowers to be ridiculously expensive, so Shah knows the rule: "Never flower, ALWAYS chocolate!". But as i walked through the house, i swayed. I never noticed how beautiful flowers really are. It's crazy, right? It's weird. I used to think, well, flowers are flowers. Before Keukenhof, if you had asked me what my favourite flower was, i would have answered, "Daisies". But you won't get the same answer from me if you ask me now, not after Keukenhof.

    If you ever get the chance to visit Keukenhof, do so in Spring, and do it when it's really, actually SPRING.

    It'll take your breath away. You can Google Keukenhof images, sure, but as pretty as the photos of the colourful vibrant flowers are, they are still just photos. Even with the almost non-existent flowers in the actual garden when i visited, the awed feeling i felt cannot be recalled again by looking at those photos. It's one those places that you just need to be in to truly appreciate it. I don't think we would get the chance (or the money) to visit there again, but i can still hope to see Keukenhof in all of its glory one day in a future spring.

    So far Shah and i have visited Manchester and London in England, Brussels and Bruges in Belgium, and Keukenhof (situated near Lisse) and Amsterdam in Netherlands. Now that i'm listing the places out, it doesn't sound like many places, but with Paris added to the list as well, i feel like i've seen so much and i am incredibly grateful for this gift God has granted us.

    We have a few more trips planned out, and i hope they will be just as pleasant and successful. Sure, the trips haven't all been a bed of roses; i got pretty much the shock of my life when Shah and i accidentally walked into the Red Light District in Amsterdam. And it really was an accident because i was the one who led Shah into the district, because so many people were milling around in that particular area, and i thought, oooh, looks intriguing, what's here! A word of advice: do not visit the Red Light District on your first night there. Or even better, don't visit it at all, of course. 

    Actually it was kind of funny. Twisted funny maybe. It was like:

    Shah and Liyana walking along a canal amongst the huge crowd. Liyana noticed a bevy of swans in the canal, oohing and aahing over the white beauties while her camera snapped away.
    Shah: (suddenly quiet) Um, sayang, i think this is the red light district...
    Me: Is it? (quick look around over the crowd after fawning over the swans and deciding nothing looks threatening) No lahhh. Looks normal to me.
    Shah: (looking intently in one direction for a bit) OK, then, do those look like mannequins to you?
    Me: (squinting in the same direction) Uhhh... Wait—are those girls? Real-life women?? (staring hard now) Oh. Shit.

    I probably did say "shit", and i'm not one for swearing. I insisted on walking straight through the street though, out of intense curiosity (you would be too! yes, i'm a little defensive now!), and it is safe to say i am scarred for life. I wasn't always an angel, growing up, of course, but i realized how little i knew about the ways of the world, up until what i saw there. I mean, it wasn't entirely like a horror movie, but it was like we walked into a different world altogether. A very, very tacky, full of mystery world. Poor Shah, if he were to go around and tell people we accidentally stumbled into the district, people would be like, "Right, yeh, it was an "accident" alright". But i firmly state that it was a 100% my own doing. I know it's wrong, but, as the saying goes, curiosity killed the cat. Except in this case, the "cat" refers to my innocence.

    It's funny how it's SO WRONG for a husband to suggest, "Honey, let's visit the red light district" because the wife would be all "Oh my God, you're disgusting! I'm not talking to you!" and merajuk for the rest of the night, whereas if the wife suggests it, then, you know, 'my wife is cool, right onnn'. At least i suspect that is what would go through a man's head.

    As icky as i felt, though, my humour didn't desert me. As we were walking, utterly fascinatedpast all the "coffee shops" and, you know, naughty stores, all so casual and completely legal i commented to Shah, "I guess in Amsterdam it shouldn't be called 'Red Light District'. It should be called 'District'. Just'District" and Shah really laughed.

    Don't get it? It's OK if you don't get it, Shah and i get each other's jokes when others fail to. It happens in every couple. You and your partner too.

    Some of you might enjoy visiting it. I don't know. No judging. I did insist in seeing it myself, myself. I'm sure i would have regretted not going, since i was already there. And i'm in between the 'regret' and 'no regret' zone. But yes, i would have wanted to see it for myself. Apparently it's not a big deal to the locals there. You can even see police officers strolling nonchalantly next to the googly-eyed tourists.

    But that place is a tiny, tiny part of Amsterdam. Even with the occasional waft of headache-inducing "herb" smell that is almost omnipresent, Amsterdam is a city not to be missed. The canals it is so famous for are amazing, and dare i say, romantic. I was absolutely impressed upon learning the canals are man-made, and i feel a little embarrassed to admit that it didn't occur to me that they were man-made—is this common knowledge, then? Amsterdam is even more beautiful in the daylight, especially with the sun out and about.

    But i have to say my most favourite place so far is Brussels. It might have been Bruges, if Shah and i had done more than spent a few hours eating dinner late at night there, but for now i would say it's Brussels. There are mussels in Brussels! How did i not know that? I love how they rhyme, how that should make so much sense. I stuffed as much mussels as i could in Belgium, really. They eat mussels with fries there, and that was absolutely delightful, since i lovelovelove mussels. And who doesn't love fries?

    Brussels seemed magical to me. We only had two days there, so we covered most of the must-do's on foot (not hard to do since it's a relatively small city) and in the process got to discover a strip full of seafood restaurants. It's this long glorious stretch, and every single restaurant serves seafood, and oh myGod, i love seafood. If i could go to Brussels this very weekend, i really would. Or Bruges, oh yes. We were in Bruges for maybe 3 hours at most, where we had the most amazing dinner of lobster and mussels (Shah spent a bundle! but it was totally worth it). We saw enough to know that if people ask "Where would you and Shah go for a honeymoon in Europe?", i would answer "Bruges" straight away. And then i would continue to say, "Well, Paris too, i guess", because i really do love Paris too.

    I do feel like a lucky, lucky girl.

    I cannot say when i will have the material to write here, because other than the "hangover", i can't seem to get inspired and update my blog for two more reasons:

    (1) I have been immersed in finishing all three books of Hunger Games. Daymn these books are addictive! I was surprised at how much i loved them. I spend a week, a week and a half, maybe, to finish all three. And it was like other things became less important. Other than feeding myself and Shah, all i did was read those books. And after finishing the last one yesterday, i was like, "OK. What do i do now?". It was a short state of confusion. And i am still re-reading some scenes too.

    (2) I just started using these skin products with salicylic acid in them, so my face is going through that dreaded "purging" phase. There is no way i am doing any makeup post anytime soon, at least not ones that would include my face.

    So there you go. I'm racking my brain trying to come up with something to write about (type about?) but this is what i came up with. And i will come back to baby this blog again soon.

    Till then!
    xxoo

    It's been almost a month since i last wrote a post. This isn't intentional, though. I got caught up in the travellings and the hangover that resulted from it. 

    I didn't know i could call it 'hangover'—i was trying to come up with a word that would describe the deflated, tired feeling after following a gruelling schedule for a short while, when i checked the definition of 'hangover' in Merriam-Webster online and found out the word could also mean "a letdown following great excitement or excess", and that word is exactly what i was, and maybe still am, feeling.

    It's been amazing, travelling in Europe. Never in my wildest dreams did i imagine taking trips to different countries in Europe. Coming to stay in Paris (Paris!!!) for almost a year was already a whole other thing, but it still didn't occur to me to do the thing authors in book and people in movies/tv shows always talk about: Euro trip.


    I have Shah to thank for having that dream himself, and i thank Allah for giving us the fortune to achieve Shah's dream.

    Now, if i'm being honest myself, i would have used some of the money to splurge on a really nice, bloody expensive handbag. I spent months browsing through the different handbags, especially those from famous French and other European brands. Oh yes, trust me, i had my eyes on a Chloe one, then Louis Vuitton, and melted when i saw those Pradas. A friend i made here (wait, how do you "make" friends?) bought herself a luscious Celine, and if i had seen the hot pink version of her handbag that i saw on Naomi Campbell's arm, i probably would have caved and begged Shah for it.

    But i am lucky to have met a man of sense and a little stinginess, because even if i had seen the hot pink Celine, he would have emphatically said "NO, Liyana. You want to choose Celine or Spain, Liyana? Choose, Liyana, chooooooooooseee." And i love and adore Shah way too much to take away his dream of travelling to Spain for a handbag that i probably would put aside a few months after using it, and trade for a newer Michael Kors or something. This really does sound like something i would do, regardless the brand or how superb i found the handbag at first sight. Forgotten, out of boredom or for a newer, hotter version. New always wins with me when it comes to handbags and clothes and shoes, and i wonder if this happens to other girls as well? Hm.

    I'm 27 but there's so much growing up to do. Here i learn that memories last longer. Since spring had been winter-like in Europe this year, flowers have been intimidated to come out. Shah and i were on our way to Amsterdam when we stopped by Keukenhof, this well-known flower garden, said to be the largest in the world (thanks, Wiki). There were hardly any flower in the garden itself, but it was beautiful nonetheless, with tall trees and little streams and a really peaceful, serene surroundings. Shah and i were instantly reminded of Christchurch, The Garden City, which we loved, where we studied and first laid eyes on each other (ceh ceh). Christchurch was always so pretty in Spring, and the time between Spring and Summer has always been my favourite.

    But i was completely taken by surprise by the sight in one of Keukenhof's "houses". I think i even gasped as i walked in. This particular building was probably climate-controlled or something, as the whole humongous space was filled with the most beautiful, most breathtaking tulips and lilies and i don't even know what the other flowers are called.

    I'm a girl, i love flowers but i love chocolates more, plus i find flowers to be ridiculously expensive, so Shah knows the rule: "Never flower, ALWAYS chocolate!". But as i walked through the house, i swayed. I never noticed how beautiful flowers really are. It's crazy, right? It's weird. I used to think, well, flowers are flowers. Before Keukenhof, if you had asked me what my favourite flower was, i would have answered, "Daisies". But you won't get the same answer from me if you ask me now, not after Keukenhof.

    If you ever get the chance to visit Keukenhof, do so in Spring, and do it when it's really, actually SPRING.

    It'll take your breath away. You can Google Keukenhof images, sure, but as pretty as the photos of the colourful vibrant flowers are, they are still just photos. Even with the almost non-existent flowers in the actual garden when i visited, the awed feeling i felt cannot be recalled again by looking at those photos. It's one those places that you just need to be in to truly appreciate it. I don't think we would get the chance (or the money) to visit there again, but i can still hope to see Keukenhof in all of its glory one day in a future spring.

    So far Shah and i have visited Manchester and London in England, Brussels and Bruges in Belgium, and Keukenhof (situated near Lisse) and Amsterdam in Netherlands. Now that i'm listing the places out, it doesn't sound like many places, but with Paris added to the list as well, i feel like i've seen so much and i am incredibly grateful for this gift God has granted us.

    We have a few more trips planned out, and i hope they will be just as pleasant and successful. Sure, the trips haven't all been a bed of roses; i got pretty much the shock of my life when Shah and i accidentally walked into the Red Light District in Amsterdam. And it really was an accident because i was the one who led Shah into the district, because so many people were milling around in that particular area, and i thought, oooh, looks intriguing, what's here! A word of advice: do not visit the Red Light District on your first night there. Or even better, don't visit it at all, of course. 

    Actually it was kind of funny. Twisted funny maybe. It was like:

    Shah and Liyana walking along a canal amongst the huge crowd. Liyana noticed a bevy of swans in the canal, oohing and aahing over the white beauties while her camera snapped away.
    Shah: (suddenly quiet) Um, sayang, i think this is the red light district...
    Me: Is it? (quick look around over the crowd after fawning over the swans and deciding nothing looks threatening) No lahhh. Looks normal to me.
    Shah: (looking intently in one direction for a bit) OK, then, do those look like mannequins to you?
    Me: (squinting in the same direction) Uhhh... Wait—are those girls? Real-life women?? (staring hard now) Oh. Shit.

    I probably did say "shit", and i'm not one for swearing. I insisted on walking straight through the street though, out of intense curiosity (you would be too! yes, i'm a little defensive now!), and it is safe to say i am scarred for life. I wasn't always an angel, growing up, of course, but i realized how little i knew about the ways of the world, up until what i saw there. I mean, it wasn't entirely like a horror movie, but it was like we walked into a different world altogether. A very, very tacky, full of mystery world. Poor Shah, if he were to go around and tell people we accidentally stumbled into the district, people would be like, "Right, yeh, it was an "accident" alright". But i firmly state that it was a 100% my own doing. I know it's wrong, but, as the saying goes, curiosity killed the cat. Except in this case, the "cat" refers to my innocence.

    It's funny how it's SO WRONG for a husband to suggest, "Honey, let's visit the red light district" because the wife would be all "Oh my God, you're disgusting! I'm not talking to you!" and merajuk for the rest of the night, whereas if the wife suggests it, then, you know, 'my wife is cool, right onnn'. At least i suspect that is what would go through a man's head.

    As icky as i felt, though, my humour didn't desert me. As we were walking, utterly fascinatedpast all the "coffee shops" and, you know, naughty stores, all so casual and completely legal i commented to Shah, "I guess in Amsterdam it shouldn't be called 'Red Light District'. It should be called 'District'. Just'District" and Shah really laughed.

    Don't get it? It's OK if you don't get it, Shah and i get each other's jokes when others fail to. It happens in every couple. You and your partner too.

    Some of you might enjoy visiting it. I don't know. No judging. I did insist in seeing it myself, myself. I'm sure i would have regretted not going, since i was already there. And i'm in between the 'regret' and 'no regret' zone. But yes, i would have wanted to see it for myself. Apparently it's not a big deal to the locals there. You can even see police officers strolling nonchalantly next to the googly-eyed tourists.

    But that place is a tiny, tiny part of Amsterdam. Even with the occasional waft of headache-inducing "herb" smell that is almost omnipresent, Amsterdam is a city not to be missed. The canals it is so famous for are amazing, and dare i say, romantic. I was absolutely impressed upon learning the canals are man-made, and i feel a little embarrassed to admit that it didn't occur to me that they were man-made—is this common knowledge, then? Amsterdam is even more beautiful in the daylight, especially with the sun out and about.

    But i have to say my most favourite place so far is Brussels. It might have been Bruges, if Shah and i had done more than spent a few hours eating dinner late at night there, but for now i would say it's Brussels. There are mussels in Brussels! How did i not know that? I love how they rhyme, how that should make so much sense. I stuffed as much mussels as i could in Belgium, really. They eat mussels with fries there, and that was absolutely delightful, since i lovelovelove mussels. And who doesn't love fries?

    Brussels seemed magical to me. We only had two days there, so we covered most of the must-do's on foot (not hard to do since it's a relatively small city) and in the process got to discover a strip full of seafood restaurants. It's this long glorious stretch, and every single restaurant serves seafood, and oh myGod, i love seafood. If i could go to Brussels this very weekend, i really would. Or Bruges, oh yes. We were in Bruges for maybe 3 hours at most, where we had the most amazing dinner of lobster and mussels (Shah spent a bundle! but it was totally worth it). We saw enough to know that if people ask "Where would you and Shah go for a honeymoon in Europe?", i would answer "Bruges" straight away. And then i would continue to say, "Well, Paris too, i guess", because i really do love Paris too.

    I do feel like a lucky, lucky girl.

    I cannot say when i will have the material to write here, because other than the "hangover", i can't seem to get inspired and update my blog for two more reasons:

    (1) I have been immersed in finishing all three books of Hunger Games. Daymn these books are addictive! I was surprised at how much i loved them. I spend a week, a week and a half, maybe, to finish all three. And it was like other things became less important. Other than feeding myself and Shah, all i did was read those books. And after finishing the last one yesterday, i was like, "OK. What do i do now?". It was a short state of confusion. And i am still re-reading some scenes too.

    (2) I just started using these skin products with salicylic acid in them, so my face is going through that dreaded "purging" phase. There is no way i am doing any makeup post anytime soon, at least not ones that would include my face.

    So there you go. I'm racking my brain trying to come up with something to write about (type about?) but this is what i came up with. And i will come back to baby this blog again soon.

    Till then!
    xxoo

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