#2081 | Another one from another life

Hi guys,

Another one of late. I knew I was going to be taking a break from entertainment for the year end to work on the literary side of things, so the months leading up to November were actually insanely busy, crammed with shoots and revisions and scripts and projects yet to come to fruition, but promising promising, busy yet still promising. I am equal parts excited and intimidated, the tension between the up down up down up down is enough to wreck. A. Girl. I’m telling you! And yet I would not have it any other way. I wake up everyday horrified at all the things I have yet to do. Everyday I feel like all I’m doing is catching up. And on and on we go.



Anyway here is what I was talking about, re: another one. I hosted the Secrets of Okinawa travel episode for Okinawa Tourism Board x Jetstar Asia, a 5 day shoot that ended in a typhoon (!!!). Which obviously didnt make the final cut. For reasons.

I adore Okinawa. It’s my second time back – the first I was also hosting a travel video, a mini travel series in three parts that was more lifestyle and fun. This one is a little more documentary style. I actually prefer this one because of the homestay I got to do, which let me really sit down and get to know my hosts even after the cameras stopped rolling. Also – the extremely uncoordinated me got to do some hiking, which I have steadily refused my entire life, just knowing I would fall on my face and have my front teeth knocked out.. well, I didn’t, which is a nice surprise, though all it really does is reaffirm the extreme paranoia I carry around with me. Etcetera. Aside: that’s one way to get me to do physical activity I normally refuse – have a client request it. Ah well.

Because so much happened in between the shoot and release date, I actually forgot all about it.. until I saw it online. And then the memories all came rushing back. I thought to myself: Gosh. I love camera work. I actually really love it. When I go on set it’s like a different version of myself surfaces, a more extroverted, excitable, playful version, and it’s like running on an adrenaline high. It is second only to writing – which brings with it a different, deeper, more settled joy. And then when the camera cuts I settle back into my regular person. I guess that’s why it always feels like I’m watching a self from another life when I watch my own camera work after it releases, that shock of uncanniness not entirely unpleasant, but not exactly comfortable either. But then again I have become accustomed to discomfort.

Till next time.

x
Jem

#2080| Exuberance!

Hey guys,

Just on here again because I realised how doom and gloom I sounded the last couple of posts, and wanted visual, solid proof that much of my being is really exuberance!!!! and more!!!! and that it is only in the quiet of writing that my retrospective, and thus, sombre side emerges. It is what it is. Regardless, part of the reason October flew by so fast was because I was basically filming nonstop for various travel shows and also other things. You know the going is good when the show launches and you’re just mourning all the good footage that didn’t make it into the cut thanks to time restrictions or whatever. But, yknw, brevity is not my strong suit, so it is probably for the best that judicious cuts be made on my behalf, anyway.

Here we go! The DFS shoot I did a couple of weeks ago. When DFS Changi asked me to host an episode of their #ShowYourCraft series and told me I’d be basically making cocktails all day.. I was like, guys. Is this a prank? That doesnt sound like work at all. It turns out, as you’ll see in the episode, that the plan all along was to lure me in with whiskey then prank me. Gasp! Diabolical.




Another thing that just launched – the travel show Roz and I were filming in Osaka last month (insanely quick turnaround time, props to the crew!) which was one of the most fun shoots I’ve done, ever!


It’s always so great when you work with people you love. Everytime Roz and I get together on set it’s almost like people are just hiring us to hang out and have fun, which is what we do all the time anyway. Happiness and hilarity ensues, etcetera etcetera. My university professor messaged me after watching it to ask if she could show it at next year’s open house; ergo, the moral of the story is that a masters degree in English Literature can lead to an illustrious career in rapping bad puns onscreen. Let nobody accuse academia of inflexibility, is what Im sayin.

x
Jem

#2079 | Of course and of course not

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Here again and it is end-October now. A crossroads of sorts has sprung up and taken root in my mind of late, not that it’s a bad thing, just different. And obsessive as I am I cannot help but obsess! Obsess obsess obsess. It is like standing atop a snow pile and deciding whether or not to take off the wool coat when your toes are already starting to prickle and curl from the bite of ice. It is all very exciting, every three days is exciting and the fourth you cannot help but think, writing is so lonely. Then the fifth day comes and again the winds of excitement!!! Anyway. To bastardise shakespeare, to do or not to do; that is the question.

The answer, obviously, is of course, and of course not.

x
Jem

#2078 | October?

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How many times have I opened and started a blog post draft then left it half-formed and aborted the whole thing? Too many, I think. I have been in a strange mood w.r.t. public writing and there are reasons why but they are not reasons i can really put a finger on, not coherently or right now anyway. Will this attempt make it to published status? Who knows. It’s just a blogpost, I think to myself, lighten up.

The other day I opened my phone’s twitter app and wanted to express my shock at how fast time was going by, how it was already september, when I realised that it was october. Major, major what the heck moment. At the start of the year there were so many things I had set out for myself to do, in 2018, and it is already rapidly approaching the fourth quarter of the year and what have we? Actually, scrap that. It is already the fourth quarter, I dont know why I pretended otherwise. Weirdly, I have been watching cartoons. That bit seems important to state for the records.

This year has gone by so fast, which is the same thing I said about last year, and the year before that. Etcetera. But this year (or at least, the second half of this year), I have started to feel a bit more hopeful, a bit more optimistic about things. I have made no secret about the fact that I’ve been off my game, creatively, for the last two years, events that threw me off kilter collided into my previously dandy existence and I have more or less been struggling to catch some internal balance ever since. At some point it was bleak. As someone who is naturally pre-disposed towards cheeriness (self-diagnosis, take it as you will), the feeling of constant distress hurt. A lot of forced onward trudging had to be self-implemented, with vague hope that eventually things would change. Life does go on.

Which is why the second half of this year was so important to me: and for the first time, the speeding by of months and days and hours induced less panic than it did a kind of determination, with a sense of challenge and fulfilment. My best friend and I are old school, we write letters, emails to each other, we find it helps gather our thoughts. There is a very solid kind of happiness that one derives from taking stock of the ways we have come, from the ways we were before, not in terms of accomplishments, as one might expect, but in terms of the friendships we have built upon, the deepening of understanding and support and love. All this is to say that I am thankful at the end of the day, I suppose.

Here comes the year end, hurtling towards us, too fast.

x
Jem

#2077 | the broke student’s guide to Wroclaw solo!

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Wroclaw, Poland

Hey guys,

I was in Poland for some work in June and extended my trip to venture off to Wroclaw alone – a place full of promise with a name i couldn’t entirely pronounce. No matter! Adventure called, and I answered. Off to Wroclaw it was!

Getting there

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Hello from the GORGEOUS town of Wroclaw!

I took a 3 hour busride from Krakow to Wroclaw, it stands to reason as usual that the earlier you book the cheaper it is. I booked 2 weeks in advance and paid 5.90Eur per way. This is by far the cheapest and most efficient way of doing it from my research, I used Flixbus and downloaded the app too so I could check in via mobile instead of having to print stuff out and keep it on hand.

The bus departs from MDA bus station which is right next to the main train station in Krakow, as well as a giant mall, so theres lots to do while waiting for your bus to depart. Because i lead a terribly exciting life, I found a cafe with free powerpoints immediately, sat down, and started checking my emails.

*Note – the bus ride actually took 3.5-4hrs although it was advertised as a three hour ride. Traffic, I guess.

Total cost: 5.90 x 2 = 11.80Eur / SGD

Luggage matters

My entire trip was 2 weeks and I was only to spend 3 days in Wroclaw, so I had to find some way of getting rid of my big luggage while travelling solo and therefore, light. Thankfully most main train stations in Europe have a left-luggage system (I also double checked this online) and the one in Krakow is no different. I needed not just a left luggage locker which would limit each storage period to 24 hours, but a left luggage booth. This was located outside Burger King near platform 5 in the Krakow train station, and it cost 6Zlt/day to store big luggages for up to 10 days. That is very well priced, it’s essentially 2SGD. Ive paid up to 30 bucks in other parts of the world for the same service!

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this is what it looks like

Total cost: 6 x 3zlt = 18Zlt / 6SGD. PAY IN CASH UPON PICK UP.

Money matters – Currency, Credit, Cash.

Poland uses their own currency, the zloty. The exchange rate is about 2.74 in our favor. If you change your money literally anywhere besides the airport, you’ll get a pretty decent rate. But it’s worth noting that Poland is super credit card friendly, even random pushcarts selling coffee are likely to have credit card machines, so I’d only change a small amount of zloty (30 euros maybe?) and charge the rest to a miles card if I were you. This is also because the chances of being able to change zloty back to SGD is pretty low, Singapore doesnt even stock the zloty so you’d have to change it to euro then from euro back to SGD.. it’s just a whole hassle. Most places also have paywave enabled, so if you have a paywave card youre basically just tapping as you go, it’s mega convenient and way better than trying to sort out your zloty. The only things I needed cash for were those random toilets that charged entry fees, luggage storage/lockers, and like this one super obscure hot dog stand that only accepted cash.

Connectivity – Data, calls, etcetera

As mentioned in my Broke Student’s Guide to Warsaw, data in Poland is very, very affordable. In fact, the only other city I’ve been to with such sick rates for data is Helsinki, which was 3.99Eur for unlimited 7 day data. For Poland, I paid 7zlt (2.50SGD) for 7GB of data with 30 day validity. The carrier I went with was Orange, one of the biggest carriers in Poland, and I got the SIM card from the Warsaw Chopin Airport.

Accomodation

There are hostels aplenty in Wroclaw, but I booked myself an airbnb because I wanted a private space for myself and the extra cost was worth it to me. I paid 89SGD/2 nights for this gorgeous space. Main considerations I had when looking for a space was that it had to either have an elevator or be on the first floor of the building since I was travelling alone and I’d pulled a muscle in my arm previously from trying to lug a giant suitcase up 8 flights of stairs lol. This airbnb was on the first floor (meaning just one flight of stairs up, they go by Ground, 1, 2, 3, etc) of the building, which was perfect for me!

Link to my airbnb: https://www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/19632795.
***Kindly sign up for airbnb at airbnb.com/jemma to get 45SGD off your first booking so that I can also get money off my bookings and therefore fund future broke student guides thank you. ***

The average cost of a hostel bed in Wroclaw is about 18-20SGD / night but i wasnt in the mood to share a dorm with 11 other young men and women haha, some trips I dont mind but this time i wanted some quiet time. Either way its good to know the option is there!

Total cost: 89SGD

Getting around

Wroclaw is a very walkable city, otherwise there are trams and citybikes you can pay for. I dont know anything about those because I walked EVERYWHERE. I didn’t even have to uber from the train station to my accommodation, it was a 10 minute walk, and from my apartment, another 10 minute walk into the Old Town.

And Wroclaw is super pretty so walking everywhere is totally enjoyable! Just have to put this out there in case the idea of lots of walking is off-putting to some of you!

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The walk from my airbnb to the city center was super nice too

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Here are the prices for the bikes anyway

Total cost: Free

Food

The cheapest way of feeding yourself is to locate the nearest milk bar and start off your day there. Despite the name, milk bars dont actually sell milk, they’re a kind of Polish canteen that was popularised in the post-war period as an affordable alternative to the more expensive, and therefore, capitalist, restaurants. They were mostly state subsidized as part of the welfare system, and put in place so the poorer people had somewhere to eat. At some point there were milk bars everywhere in Poland, but after the fall of the communist system they started to fold. However, you can usually still find a couple in each polish city – and they serve traditional and often home made polish food, which is awesome!

And they weren’t joking when they said milk bars were cheap. The only thing though, is that they’re catered to Poles and not to tourists haha so everything on the menu is in Polish. I just randomly pointed at something on the board and hoped for the best. Turns out I got a drink, salad, soup with noodles, main course (pork cutlet) and side (potatoes), all for 14.90zlt. That’s 5.40SGD. Amazing. And everything was really yummy too. It’s not only affordable, it’s also mad filling, because there’s just so much food, so if you start your day off eating here you probably won’t get hungry again till much later at night…

The milk bar I visited was right outside Renoma, the biggest shopping mall in Wroclaw.

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Everything is in polish, so.. yolo!

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It really looks more like a nice cafe than a budget milkbar!

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Mystery juice. I still have no idea what this is.

Rozowa Krowa
Świdnicka 38, 11-400 Wrocław

Other than milk bars, there are also plenty of affordable food options around the city. I hit up this pub called Pre-war (Przedwojenna) on my first night there, which was so awesome. All the food and drink options were painted on the wall, and the pricing system was straightforward – 4zlt for drinks, 8zlt for food. That’s SGD1.40 for a beer and SGD2.90 for a main… Again, everything was in polish, so I actually mistook the entire place’s concept and thought they were some kind of tapas bar because of the prices. I accidentally ordered two main courses instead of two tiny side dishes as I expected..

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I feel like I gotta put the prices here just as proof or no one will believe me!

Prewar
Świętego Mikołaja 81, 11-400 Wrocław, Poland
Open 24 Hours

The only ‘expensive’ thing I did was splurge on a 12zlt beer in this nice sports bar, 1450 Smokehouse & Cocktail, because the Poland vs Senegal World Cup match was showing on a big screen and I wanted to catch it. 12zlt is pricey for a beer (to me) because I was comparing it to the 4zlt beer I had the night before.. But it’s still SGD4.30 for a beer, yknw? Haha.

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Fun!

Oh yes, and the day I left, I hit up a pretty great cafe where I had a life changing experience with some focaccia. While that wasn’t expensive, it also cost slightly more than the rest of the food I had on the trip.

Total Cost: I cant remember. Bahaha.

Things to do

Hunt Gnomes!!

This is an actual thing. It’s almost like Wroclaw’s national thing by now, to be honest. You see these gnomes on magnets and stuff! But yes, these little metal sculptures pop up all over the city, and they’re hilarious. As are the random tourists you’ll see chasing them down at most corners! I didn’t go out of my way to look for them but I did follow the trail of a couple of them, and I was pretty amused everytime I came across another. There are apparently over 400 gnomes in the city now!

Beyond being a fun quirk, the gnomes actually have a really interesting back story – they were created as symbol of anti-Soviet resistance group, the Orange Alternative, as a way of protesting freedom of speech amongst other things. Long story short, it made authorities look like fools every time they tried to clamp down on them, because theyre freakin cute gnomes, for goodness sake! Anyway, the gnomes now are so popular amongst locals and tourists alike that they have their own official website with backstories and dwarf gossip, HAHA. Here it is – http://krasnale.pl/en/

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Hello, you

Check out their modern art

I find modern art in Poland fascinating because it is so heavily influenced by their post-war identity. Wroclaw is especially interesting because it used to be part of Germany (Breslau), and so its identity is steeped in the fact that it was actually on *that* side of history. Wroclaw was actually a pretty pro-hitler town before the war, actually, and it’s something they confront regularly in their documentation of history and art. I went to the BWA Wroclaw Galleries of Contemporary Art and loved it! It wasn’t very big but all the exhibits were well thought out and fascinating.

If you have a student card this will cost 4ZLT instead of 8.

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As you can tell, I have been unabashedly abusing my student card

BWA Wroclaw Galleries of Contemporary Art
Wita Stwosza 32, 11-400 Wrocław, Poland

Check out the city museum at their Royal palace

The ex-royal palace has since been remodelled into a museum which houses cultural artefacts from Wroclaw’s history, detailing everything from fashion to furniture, from religious movements to Wroclaw’s involvement in World War II. I was actually really taken by the third level of the museum, which focuses on the post war Soviet occupation. I previously visited the Neon Muzeum in Warsaw which exhibits restored neon signs, relics from the Cold War era in Poland, and this kind of expanded on what I saw there.

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And of course, any history museum in Poland focuses in part on the war..

Entry: free
Website

Royal Palace, Wrocław (City Museum)
Kazimierza Wielkiego 35, 50-077 Wrocław, Poland

Total cost: 4Zlt/ 1.2SGD


Ending off

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Solo in Wroclaw = lots of selfies..

I absolutely loved Wroclaw and I’m so so so glad I decided to make a solo trip here instead of staying in Warsaw for a few more days! Don’t get me wrong, I do love Warsaw, but Wroclaw is very different in terms of character and charm, and a lot of this has to do with its history, I think. As with the rest of Poland, Wroclaw is relatively affordable compared to most of Europe, and if you’re in the area I definitely recommend making a two or three day trip here. Hope this guide was helpful and if you’re headed that way, and if youre not, make plans! x

*This Broke Student Guide was brought to you by me. Everything you see here was paid for on my own coin, in true broke student style. Enjoy!

x
Jem