158 Days Later

When I cracked my eyes open in the morning, I was already feeling lethargic and uninspired. My eyes would burn holes through the stark white ceiling above me whilst the feeling of dread towards another day of job-hunting would painfully lace around my core and drain me of the energy I thought I had mustered from my sleep the night before.

Then, I asked myself, “Is this post-graduation syndrome?”

This was how my day would begin for the past couple of weeks.

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It took me a while before realising that it was a bit too late for this ‘syndrome’ to appear now, but it all made so much sense considering that I had been delaying it.

When I got back from the UK, I had something to look forward to: another exciting adventure into the unknown. But when I got back from the US more recently, it felt like I didn’t know where I was going, which was ironic because I went to the US mainly to get a clearer sense of direction for my advocacy.

Just to clarify, it’s not that I still don’t have strategic plans to advance my causes. These plans are currently a work in progress and resources and networking opportunities are at the tip of my fingers, all thanks to my five-weeks in the US.

Rather, what’s constantly filling me up with anxiety is figuring out my next stage in life that I seem to have subconsciously forgotten about. Sure enough, there are plans that I want to do for my community, but what about me? How do I set my priorities straight? What if things didn’t work out the way that I planned? The answers to these questions are known to me, and yet I would always end up asking these same questions to myself again and again.

Perhaps I wasn’t asking the right questions. Perhaps I was being too hard on myself. Or perhaps I was looking for an answer that I wanted to hear and not what I needed to hear.

Eventually, behind every act of recycling and repeating these answers was a growing desire to run away and simply be.

That was how I started to make my way back to this blog; my forgotten sanctuary.

Throughout my whole blogging journey, the source of my commitment issues was usually a writer’s block or my academia/work in general. This last hiatus, however, stemmed from more than a mere writer’s block or my studies (‘cos duh, didn’t I graduate three months ago?). In fact, it was a deliberate act of sheer indifference and despondency further aggravated by the currently ambiguous direction of my life. The most alarming part of this whole debacle was that I was so demotivated that I nearly shut down this blog.

But before I could click the ‘Delete’ button, I felt a huge pang of guilt for even thinking about shutting down the one thing that kept me sane throughout my uni life.

Then, I decided that I wasn’t going to let this post-graduation thing – or should I say post-adventure withdrawal? Is that even a thing? – get in the way of my well-being. And I certainly did not want to let it hinder me from supporting my family. Wallowing in my shrinking bubble to the point that I was at the brink of losing myself and the very essence that makes me… me was already in itself a trigger for this turnaround.

I was positively set on changing my approach and attitude towards dealing with this transitional phase through the best way that I possibly could: writing. So, before I started to write, I gave myself time to stop planning for the future, and – although it was especially difficult – to stop thinking about the future. Every inhibition that I held on to previously, I let it all go.

When I woke up this morning, I was at ease. My shoulders felt lighter, my mind felt clearer, and my slumber felt deeper.

Another day of breathing didn’t feel mechanical anymore. Another day of breathing felt more like another opportunity to just be.

Most importantly for me, it was an opportunity to write again.

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With a cup of freshly brewed coffee, ambient music and newfound resolve, words flowed through me like a rapid stream. Upon seeing words forming into paragraphs, I could feel my eyes glistening and my heart soaring in a way that it hadn’t in such a long time.

I knew then that I had finally succumbed to my desire and relearned the art of slow-living.

I was finally myself again.

There’s no denying that the questions I posed to myself earlier would return when I am at my weakest. After all, I still have to face reality and resume with future-planning.

But at this moment in time, nothing can take away this metaphysical experience of contentment and strength – no matter how brief and frail it can be.

Until the next musing or adventure,

fifi-h-hasman-1

Review | Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

Since I officially jumped into the world of film photography in 2014 and gradually became a film photographer myself, I have always wanted to review the wide array of film rolls we have available right now. It’s probably well-known by most of you that I have already tried numerous film rolls within the past few years. So, it’s frankly quite late for me to start reviewing now and not anytime sooner. Alas, it’s better late than never!

So, where did I come across Agfaphoto Vista? On eBay, of course! It’s my only go-to site for film supplies online. Anyway, I was looking for a cheap film to test with my Pentax K1000 (I haven’t used it in a while!) and Agfaphoto Vista was at the top of the search results among other cheap expired films. After going through the sample photos on Flickr, I immediately purchased three rolls of Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200 24 Exp for £6.50 (so that was around £2.16 per roll).

The next day, I went to Poundland in town and there it was in all its glory, Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200 24 Exp for a quid, further confirming that it is indeed the cheapest pre-expiry consumer film sold on the market to date.

Before I carry on with the review, I would like to put up a disclaimer that I am nowhere near an expert nor am I sponsored by any company to do one. This review is based on my own first impression and what my untrained eye perceives.

And now, on with the review!

1. About the film

AgfaPhoto films were produced by the consumer imaging division of Agfa-Gevaert, which was once a prominent company selling consumer-oriented photographic products. However, this division was sold and eventually renamed as AgfaPhoto GmbH under the new buyout management. After only one year of its sellout, the company went bankrupt. Today, AgfaPhoto Vista Film is licensed to be sold by Lupus Imaging & Media. A lot of people has compared AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 in particular with Kodak Portra and Fuji Pro 400H, which I don’t think I’m prepared to do since I haven’t had the chance to use the latter.

2. Tonal and grain quality

According to this film’s product information, the film has excellent grain quality and reproduces naturally-depicted skin tones, but one has to keep in mind that these claims are rather common among nearly all of the other consumer films out there.

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As you can see, the emulsions are quite vivid and stunning. I, for one, am not a fan of highly saturated photos and it’s not exactly my personal style, but the saturation made by this film was very well-played. Considering the fact that it was an extremely bright day, the colours came out better than expected.

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On that note, the grain quality was also commendable. But there were shots where the grains were not as fine than what I would have preferred, especially when I took some photos in not-so-bright areas. So, it came at the expense of losing the ‘fine details’ as previously claimed, making some photos look more underexposed than intended. You might also notice the greenish tint on some of these photos.

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3. Final verdict

I thought that the colours would look underwhelming under direct sunlight, but I was pleasantly surprised and clearly that that initial thought went the other way around. For professional use, I would probably need more time and perhaps a different camera to test this film out again and then give my actual verdict. But if it suits your aesthetics, by all means, this film has amazing fine grain quality and punchy colours, given the right amount of light exposure.

Is it worth the money? Definitely! This is a huge bargain and it’s perfect for those who are just starting out in film photography!

Is it The Rustic Trove approved? Yes, but like I said, the colour composition is not my personal style. However, as a film photographer, I can definitely appreciate the overall emulsion.

Is this the last time I’ll be using the film? Nope! Earlier, I mentioned that I bought three rolls. The photos posted here were from one roll only and I’ve already used up the second roll during my trip to Luxembourg, which will be showcased in the next post. Currently, I have no plans of using the third roll anytime soon, but who knows…

Let me know which film you’d like to see a review on next!

Until then,

fifi-h-hasman-1

Travel | Easter Break ’17: South Wales

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Hello, my lovelies! I hope everyone is enjoying the summer heat so far. As for myself, I have been cooped up in my room since I came back to Colchester, which I think was in dire need of a speedy recovery after falling sick throughout the Easter Break. But worry not, I’m definitely feeling much better now, so I’ll be up and ready for my next adventure which is coming up sooner than you think!

Before I digress from the main purpose of this blogpost any further, I finally present to you the last part of my Easter Break: South Wales!

Back in 2015, I visited Cardiff with my family and we stayed at a friend’s place for a night before making our way to Edinburgh. It was admittedly short, but lovely nonetheless. You can read more about that trip here.

If you haven’t seen the other two destinations of my 2017 Easter Break, you can check them out here: Birmingham and York.

Day 1: Arrival in Cardiff

From the last part I left off at, I was heading towards Cardiff from Birmingham during which I fell asleep throughout the whole journey. So, I woke up in a daze to an uncharacteristically sunny Cardiff upon arrival.

Like I said, I’ve only been to Cardiff once with my family, but nothing looked anywhere familiar, most probably because I didn’t get to go to the actual city centre the last time. Thankfully, Iman came to fetch me at the bus stop to take me to Treforest by train, sparing me from getting lost.

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The train ride to Treforest was about 30 minutes from Cardiff and it had some of the most scenic views. At that point, my camera’s battery was running low and I was engrossed in a deep conversation with Iman whom I hadn’t seen in such a long time.

For those who don’t know, Iman is my best friend of more than 10 years. We met in a religious school in Brunei back then.  It’s amazing that we still keep in touch over the years, even after she moved. And what’s even more amazing was that we ended up enrolling in the same sixth form centre for our A Level studies. Talk about how we were meant to be!

Day 2: Pontypridd Town

In an attempt to do some exploration, Iman and I went to Pontypridd Town where we grabbed slices of pizzas and sodas to go before walking around a nearby park, Ynysangharad Park. The town itself was small, which also meant that there was frankly not much to explore, but the park was quite picturesque.

Day 3: Cardiff Centre

On my last full day, Iman took me to Cardiff. There wasn’t anything specific that I wanted to see or eat as long as there was anywhere nice to just hang out and talk.

For some reason, we ended up checking out Cardiff City Hall, which had a huge lawn in front of it.

Literally a minute walk from the city hall was Gorsedd Gardens, where we spent most of time at.

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Day 4: Back to reality

I didn’t want to use the word ‘epic’ at the expense of dismantling the actual meaning of this trip. But in all honesty, this was the best Easter Break I have ever had where I had the chance to make it up to my best friends after an extremely busy academic year. So, I suppose calling it an epic one might construe it in a more concise and on-point form.

As a struggling uni student, I didn’t do much of a food or cafe-hopping guide for this Easter Break because that alone would have put a huge strain on my travelling budget. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you won’t see any content of that nature here. It’s just not going to be mutually exclusive, but a standalone content of its own for separate blogposts, or rather for separate discoveries to venture on.

Upcoming next: Luxembourg, here I come!

Insha Allah, I’m flying off to Luxembourg tomorrow. It has been more than a year since I’ve been anywhere outside of Brunei or the UK. So, that’s something to look forward in the next blogpost!

Until the next adventure,

fifi-h-hasman-1

Travel | Easter Break 2017: Birmingham

Hi, I’m back for the second part of my Easter break, which will pretty much showcase Birmingham in photos.

As you know from my previous blogpost, I left York early in the morning to go to Birmingham.

Upon my arrival at the second largest city after London, I was immediately swarmed by a sense of familiarity and excitement.

After Aisyah fetched me at the bus stop that I got off at, we went straight back to her apartment and it didn’t take long for us to get there, with it being in the middle of the busiest street in central Birmingham.

You would expect that living in the city means a lack of peace that one would usually appreciate in the countryside and that was what I thought when I found out that Aisyah’s place was overlooking the crowd of people who were out and about. Contrary to my first impression, the sounds of jazz music floating in the air and passers-by talking with one another sounded more lively than it was distracting. By then, my first day in Birmingham was an immediate blast for me.

Not only that, after I freshened up from the long journey, Aisyah brought me to Custard Factory, which was located on a side of Birmingham that I had never been to all these years.

The most prominent feature of Custard Factory was the numerous colourful murals throughout. Most of the shops, cafes and studios were independently owned, hence why I could feel a strong sense of creative community in the area. There were no better words than to surmise that Custard Factory was a physical manifestation of Aisyah and her immense love for street art and creative arts as a whole.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t take much photos during my remaining days there because I accidentally left my camera’s battery charger in York!

Hopefully the following photos will do justice in showcasing the most colourful side of Birmingham.

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Being the regular visitor that I am to Birmingham because of Aisyah, I knew that I would return sooner than I thought, and yet, I felt more than unwilling to bid farewell to a city that I have held close to my heart over the years.

After four wonderful days of spending quality time with one of my best friends, I was off on another – or should I say, the last – adventure during my Easter Break.

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Until the next adventure,

fifi-h-hasman-1

Travel | Easter Break 2017: York

Hi, everyone! I am finally back within the confines of my home after 3 weeks of travelling around. I wish I could say that I went to different counties that I hadn’t been to before. But since I didn’t have the luxury of time and I had been meaning to visit my closest friends, my Easter Break became a window for me to revisit some of the places that I fell in love with in my first year of uni.

As a student on a tight budget, I knew I had to plan out my itinerary as well as I possibly could, while taking into account the fact that I wouldn’t be able to visit all of my friends.

After weighing the factors that also made it mandatory for me to make certain visits, I decided that my first stop would be York!

The last time I went to York was in January last year and I was alone. You can check out a post on that here. So, you can imagine how excited I was to return to York with Hallie who had always wanted to visit Waly!

On the day of departure, our bus was scheduled to depart from London Victoria Station at 7:30pm, but Hallie and I were still in the tube at 7:15pm. As soon as we got off the tube, we automatically bolted to the coach station which was apparently 10 minutes away from the tube station. Thankfully, we made it to the station unharmed, though I think I must have nearly sprained my ankle.

The next thing we knew was that our bus got delayed… There goes our running for nothing!

Not long after that, we finally boarded the bus and began our long journey to reunite with our best friend in York.

Unfortunately, I forgot to bring along one of my film cameras. So, all the photos throughout my travels this Easter Break were taken on my DSLR.

Day 1: Exploring The City Centre

We visited Westminster Abbey and The Shambles, both of which I have mentioned in a previous travel post (link above). We ended the day with dinner at my favourite Thai restaurant in York.

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Day 2: Motivational Forum

Brunei York Society invited me to speak at their annual forum alongside of other final year undergraduates. The topic was mainly on the importance of planning for the future and how to do so. I didn’t get to take much photos, but the new building was absolutely beautiful. After the forum, we went to the main campus where I had been to before. It was nice to see how everything looked familiar.

We also had a bit of a battle with a goose there…

Day 3: Brunch at Brew & Brownie and Trip to Designer Outlet!

We started off our day with having brunch at Brew & Brownie. The cafe was the epitome of rustic and cosy combined. We were lucky enough to get a table!

After enjoying our pancakes, we took a trip to the Designer Outlet where you could literally shop till you drop! Being the broke student that I always am, I trudged on through the stores and constantly reminded myself that I needed to survive for another week of travelling around.

Fortunately for my bank account, I only bought a beautiful tin of Earl Grey Shortbread Biscuits from Whittard.

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Remaining Days in York

Hallie went back home on the night before, so Waly and I ended up going to the university to do our respective work for the remaining of my stay in York where I also fell sick completely and you know that that’s the worst thing that can happen while travelling.

The next morning, I was on my way to meet Aisyah in Birmingham.

Overall, even though I didn’t feel well throughout my time there, it was also one of the best times that I ever had this year, especially with our trio finally together in York.

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Until the next adventure,

fifi-h-hasman-1