The early bird catches the worm


6:30 mornings are almost impossible in Singapore, but in the first month that I was here, it was the norm. Before the sun was up I was brushing my teeth, cooking a complete breakfast meal, checking emails even though there wasn’t anything important going through the mail.

Was it the mattress, the house, sharing a room? The feng shui of the flat? I couldn’t make any intelligent guesses but despite being dead tired by 11 p.m., I loved the productivity I had in the morning. Nothing close to what I am like in Singapore.

They say change is the only constant, and with a change in environment, my body showed signs of resistance. Creeping out like roots were lines of dryness on my legs, uncontrollable perpetual bad hair days, and constantly cracking lips. The endless complaints I make about the humidity in Singapore made me think – be careful what you wish for. I enjoyed the cool breeze of the autumn and the icy sensation on my cheeks when I walked against the wind, but I was always sneezing, like my body had an allergic reaction to Budapest.

Despite this allergic reaction, it wasn’t difficult to fall in love with Budapest at all. At the food festivals I found my chin hanging from my face at the array of gastronomy before my eyes, the aroma, the atmosphere, the city was alive. I reveled in the live bands that were playing – even without being able to understand a word they were singing. Slowly I was swaying along with the locals, drinking craft beer while chewing on rétes. Like the endorphins in my system were soaring with the constant good mood I was in, my waistline was also expanding.

Jogging along the Danube back when the sun did not set at 4:30 p.m. was a delicious optical buffet. Hues of pink and blue took over as the sun slowly made its descent and the riverside was always filled with people enjoying this view. The night sky gradually took over and the magical moment of the chain bridge lighting up was always the biggest highlight.I wondered if I could ever get sick of a city as beautiful as Budapest.

Quaint little alleyways and coffee shops never paled in comparison to the beautiful Hungarian panorama. After class I wandered around the streets of the Jewish district and discovered a surprise at every corner. Antique stores echoed the voices of the country’s war torn past, as I looked at diaries, post cards and collar pins being put on display. I wondered if I would become part of the story if I took it home, if one day the grandchild of the owner would show up to ask for the prized possession. Then I realized I always took my imagination too far.

Gradually the sneezing got less and mornings started a little later. My ‘complete breakfast’ started getting smaller, and before I knew it I was at a bakery grabbing breakfast on the go. My mind and my body was tuning into the changes in my environment and I began feeling a little more at home. But I know one day I’ll wake up, at 10:30 a.m. drenched in sweat and I will realise that I am back home in Singapore and the past 6 months will feel like a part of a beautiful dream.

By Marie Lee


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