Archive for May, 2013

PostHeaderIcon Issa Nissa!


When I first realised that my specialisation in engineering studies (networking and telecommunication) would land me in the French Riviera, despite it’s reputation as a beautiful coastal paradise and the fact that I was extremely delighted to have been given the opportunity to live abroad, deep down inside my heart sank a little. Just a little, though. I would have preferred the colder climate farther north. Everyone knows I love rain more than the sun.

Bref. Fast forward a bit, I arrived in Nice on my 20th birthday after a hard slog from Malaysia. The moment I stepped out of the airport, I began to appreciate the largest city in the French Riviera more and more. Maybe the capital of the Riviera wasn’t a bad idea after all.
And it was just over a month ago.

But you know what? It was something else that really made me realise how much I actually loved the city, and how grateful I was to be here.

It was football.

The very first time I felt genuinely proud to be a Niçois was during the last home game of the season for the local football team OGC Nice (which I had been following a few months prior despite not that seriously). In the sold-out stadium, I sensed something alien to me: the feeling of pride of our city and the joy of togetherness and brotherhood among us, les Niçois. It felt really great. It was fantastic.

Last night was the climax of the race for European football in French Ligue 1, the final round of the season. With PSG, Marseille and Lyon occupying the top three and looking good value for it, the last spot was left to Nice, ASSE and Lille to fight for. The two key matches were Ajaccio vs Nice and Lille vs ASSE. From the start until the end for about two hours, as I was listening to the live radio commentary on the matches, my body trembled and trembled. I was totally tensed and anxious. It was about football. It was about passion. But most importantly, it was about Nice.

We eventually won against Ajaccio, leapfrogging both Lille and ASSE and securing the fourth place (as the match in Lille ended one-all), our greatest ever achievement in 37 years. The ticket into the UEFA Europa League was ours.

With emotions running high, there were times when even I incredibly almost shed a tear or two. Listening to the commentators and fans rejoicing the victory and the great accomplishment, it was hard not to feel good too. It was hard not to be proud of the city. It was hard not to love Nice. Couple that with the unofficial anthem of the city Nissa la Bella, it was virtually impossible not to be moved.

Football, it seemed, had brought me closer to the city of Nice more than anything else. Unbelievable.

PostHeaderIcon La vie en France: Week 5

Èze: A museum village.
21 May 2013.

A home to one of the famous parfumeur Fragonard’s factories, this small medieval village should be high in the priority list of anyone visiting Nice and its surrounding areas.

You can’t afford to miss the breathtaking view of the sea from its hill top.

More pics in the video below:

PostHeaderIcon Random: The Mountain

If it wasn’t for this video, I’d have never known this wonderful pianist.

Music: Nuvole Bianche by Ludovico Einaudi.

PostHeaderIcon La vie en France: Week 4

Les dernières émotions au Ray.
C’est maintenant, ou jamais.

18 May 2013

The match was scheduled to take place on the 18th May. We bought the ticket on 27th April right after our very first French class at Alliance Française. Obviously we were excited enough to act so quickly.

It was not just any match. One of the most popular french football clubs, Olympique Lyonnais were to visit local team OGC Nice, who, rather extraordinarily, were hot on their heels in the quest for UEFA Champions League (UCL) football next season. Of course, the UCL is nothing new for Lyon – being in the same group of French elites together with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique de Marseille, they are expected to represent France every year in the highly coveted European club football competition.

For Nice, on the other hand, it’s an entirely different story. The club were almost relegated three times in recent history; in 2007, 2010 and 2011, where they finished 16th, 15th and 17th (out of 20 teams) respectively. Their last silverware was the Coupe de France (the FA Cup) in 1997. The fact that they were vying with Lyon, Saint-Etienne and Lille OSC this season for the last Champions League spot was too good to be true for some of the fans. C’est maintenant, they say, ou jamais. It’s now or never.

It was a must-win match. Like, duh.

And guess what? With Nice granted a new stadium for home games starting from next season, this would also be their last ever match at Stade du RayLes dernières émotions au Ray. A very special occasion indeed.

Due to adverse weather conditions (heavy rain), however, the match was postponed until the next day.

19 May 2013

Honestly I think I was the most excited for this whole OGC Nice thingy. You have no idea how many times I had visited the club’s official store situated not far from our French school, just to look at and admire those beautiful, maginificent official club merchandise. Without even the slightest of doubts, I was thrilled to put OGC Nice alongside Manchester United as my favourite football clubs.

So, thanks to my extreme eagerness and enthusiasm, I decided to take a look at the stadium in the morning, before the kick off later in the evening. A 40-minute walk was all that was needed. I strolled around the small stadium, with the intimidating, heavy presence of gendarmeries and police (on duty for the match) made me quite uncomfortable. Then I went home.

That evening, I set off to Stade du Ray with Hafiz (fellow PF10) and Laura (a lovely, newly-found American friend).

Stade Du Ray, Nice.
15h05 – 17h35.

Gendarmeries verifying tickets at various points of entry around the stadium.

The inauguration of OGC Nice’s new emblem – a real bonus for us!

The superb atmosphere at Stade du Ray.

The match ended 1-1. Nice’s Cvitanich slotted home from the spot just after the restart, but a fantastic freekick from Clement Gernier gave Lyon the all-important equaliser. In between the goals, Lyon’s Gonalons was show the red card.

It was not the best of results, but considering how exceptionally well Nice had been performing all-year round, the fans had nothing to complain and les Aiglons accordingly gave them a lap of honour, bidding goodbye to the Ray in the process.

The unofficial anthem of Nice – Nissa la Bella:

PostHeaderIcon Grenoble: La capitale des alpes

Grenoble, France.
8 – 11 May 2013.

Open the images manually (right-click > open image) to enlarge.


PostHeaderIcon La vie en France: Week 3

Grenoble: La capitale des alpes.
8 May – 11 May 2013.

People asked me why Grenoble.
I don’t know.
Grenoble had been in my head for so long.
It’s something complicated, something I grew up with.
I had to somehow visit this city.

It was a dream come true, one which even I am not sure of its origin.
I took a regional train from Nice to Marseille, then a TGV to Valence, and finally a shuttle bus to Grenoble.

Wahey! My first ever TGV ride!

Waiting for the bus in Valence…

Final stop: Gare de Grenoble

Partially snow-capped massif hidden behind the clouds. Should have waited for summer.

At the top of Mont Jalla, where the National Memorial of the Mountain Troops is situated.

The Bastille viewed from up here.

Magnificent sights from both the Bastille and Mont Jalla. If only it was clear and sunny. A couple of panoramic pics here.

A photo montage of the first two days (watch in HD, s’il vous plait!):

UPDATE – The second one:

PostHeaderIcon Pic: Fujisan

Mount Fuji, Japan.
19 December 2012.



PostHeaderIcon Random: Introverts

Susan Cain – The Power of Introverts