27 – 29 Feb
Holland was never in the travel plans. The air tickets were booked on impulse because they were going for 0 dkk but taxes came up to about S$150. David wasn’t interested in drugs and all the rest of the liberties in Amsterdam, so I travelled with Debbie, Jiamin and our new South Koren friend, Jin Joo.
It was to be another traumatic flight experience. Deb and I had Danish lessons till 5pm, on Wed evening, and our flight was at 6.30pm. Jiamin kept exhorting us to leave class early so that we wouldn’t be late, and we had pre-arranged for him to be there earlier to check-in for all of us, since he didn’t have anything on that day. After carrying my third-full 60litre backpack to class, and 2 hours of dansk later, we rushed to the airport expecting to meet the other 2 there. Alas! Only Jinjoo was there when we arrived, and she had checked-in for us. We had 10 more minutes before the baggage drop closed, and jiamin was nowhere in sight. We got an sms from him saying he was about 15-20 mins away, and that something terrible had happened. Jinjoo and I went in first, cos she wanted to get some duty-free stuff for her friend in Amsterdam. I was smsing deb and she didn’t have any news either. Time passed quickly… 6.00 (the baggage drop closed)… 6:10 (all we could do was pray)… 6:20, Jinjoo and I start heading to the gate. it was a long long walk to the last gate at the furthest end of the terminal. And when we were there they were almost closing the gate. still no news. We asked the person at the counter whether the ‘last guy’ had checked-in, and she said yes, but did not know where was he. We quickly assured him that the last 2 pple were running as fast as they could to the gate, and to please wait for them. So jinjoo and I proceeded into the plane. We were assigned the last row of seats, and had to walk past every single person already on board. Anyhow, the whole plance waited, pple were getting impatient, and the pilot made an announcement that we were just waiting for 2 more passengers and then we were ready to shut the doors and take off. About 6.40pm, the 2 of them stepped into the plane, with plastic bags and laptops in their hands, and jiamin’s gigantic 40 to 50l backpack. Obviously they didn’t allow them to check in. but thank God for answering our desperate prayers and for allowing the passengers to wait.
So, his story: he put a set of clothes to wash when he discovered that he did not have enough while packing, at about 1pm. 1 hour later, he went to the basement of his house to retrieve his clothes, only to realise that he had forgotten to take his keys along, and he had locked himself out of his house. Thankfully, his bike was unlocked so he rode all the way to forum (which is near where we live and where his landlord works) to get keys from his landlord. In just t-shirt and track pants. That’s quite crazy and we actually live about 20 mins away. So to cut the long story short, by the time he got back, packed, showered and left, he was late. Enough said.
Back to the plane. Just when we could take off, while taxi-ing, the pilots discovere some ‘technical problems’, so they had to get the plane back to the gate to get it checked and repaired. We were delayed by almost 2 hours. By the time we took off, it was close to 8.30pm, and we landed at about 9.40pm, almost 2 hours late. The worst thing was that we had dinner waiting for us at Isaac’s place. And I was quite scared that they’d be waiting for too long. I didn’t even know his friends. Anyhow, we managed to get to his place by about 10.30, they were so kind as to heat up the food for us and chatted with us till almost midnight. They were all NUS students, mind you, and we were the enemy – SMU. Heh. It was great meeting Isaac again though, it’s odd how we only see each other outside of Singapore, the last time was when we were leaving Cedar Point about 1.5 years ago… how time flies!
Jiamin and I slept on the floor in Isaac’s room; while deb and jinjoo stayed at jinjoo’s friend’s place. The arrangement was complicated, I’ll explain if you ask. Poor jiamin was coughing all night through, and quite badly too, isaac’s pipakao and luohankuo helped to alleviate it, but not much. The next morning, I woke up with a cough too, but I thought I was tough enough. I borrowed Stephanie ‘s (Isaac’s friend) bike and we pushed it to Amsterdam Centraal where we met the 2 girls. After much deliberation, we decided to rent 3 more bikes and explore the city of bikes on… bikes.
The city of Amsterdam is truly amazing. It was not what I had imagined it to be – messy, dangerous, dirty. Au contraire, it was rather orderly, and I felt very safe. There are so many bikes in the city, more than in Copenhagen, and the bike rack at central is 3 storeys high and can hold up to 2500 bikes, imagine that! On top of all the bikes that are already parked everywhere you can imagine!
you can really see the B1 storey here cos it's lower on the water... and the picture doesn't really do justice to the sight
Anyhow, we wanted to end up at the Van Gogh Museum, which was south of the city centre. So we followed the Amstel River south, but soon enough, we found ourselves cycling in the countryside, completely out of the navigation guidance of the map! After a big detour and a minor accident involving the bikes, we arrived at Museumplein (the place of Museums) to meet Isaac, who was kind enough to bring us around after his classes ended that morning.
at museumplein, which kinda resembles Washington DC
Using the NUS people’s museum passes, we managed to get in for free, and spent some time appreciating Van Gogh’s art and learn about his tragic life. I quite like his paintings, mainly because I like the impressionist/ pointillism style which was made famous by people like himself and Monet, but his life was so sad. At a high point, he had wanted to become an evangelist, as his father was preacher, but he gave up after a while and became an artist at 27, only to fall into melancholy and illness, and then shoot himself in the chest when he was barely 40 years old because of a lack of popularity, decline in skill due to illness and fears of becoming a burden to others.
Our next stop was the market. That was really nice and exciting for us, cos it meant eating. We had discovered that the cost of living was significantly lower than that in Copenhagen, and suddenly, we could afford lots of things again. So we decided to go on an eating spree. At the market, we bought homemade chocolate, nuts, dutch stroop waffles, fried mussles, and even cheap toiletries.
the chocolate shop, really 'creatively' shaped chocolates, chocolates dipped in chocolate and huge chunks of chocolate
The next day, Isaac was too tired to bring us around, poor thing, his school work is a lot more voluminous than ours in Copenhagen, and he’s been having late nights, so we asked him to stay home while we went around by ourselves. Jinjoo was too tired from all the cycling the day before, so she decided to sleep in as well (oh no, maybe she’ll never travel with us again!)
we bumped into esmond and daphne, who are headed for paris but travelling a lot before school starts...