Saturday, 28 December 2013

Galway and a Irish Love Song

Day 3 on the mini all Ireland tour was when the fun begins. Our tour guide Martin finally after dropping all the other piggyback tour guides that was tagging along he was finally free to break express himself fully :)

Have you ever heard a Irish Love Song ???

Galway. It was a party town in the middle of winter. Somewhat famous for the romance movie and song Galway Girl this place was actually crowded for there was a university nearby feeding the city vibe. That night our guide brought us to a one of a kind place for drinking / dancing and partying ….

It was a diner during the day , pub in the evenings and nightclub after 11pm … sounds normal … the building use to be a church. Blasphemy !!! Yep we were plastered, wasted, happy as f*ck that night …. Thou I barely remember all the details I did remember going out for a smoke break and boy it was freezing cold. Girls were dressed to kill … or rather barely dress for the weather … long story short … you don’t need to look up to catch an up skirt …. Just look down and you will naturally see a panty shot since the mini skirt is above the panties.

Galway was a crazy stop that’s for sure … we never saw daylight in Galway …. reach there  in the evening … got some food … party …. woke up early and back on the bus to Dingle …

Martin asked two question in the morning ride after a while when people started waking up in the bus …

Everyone had fun yesterday night ??
( Respond of a crazy bus passengers screaming whoo hooo … or something along that line )

Did anyone get Lucky ??
( Silence, small giggles, laughter and many eye balling exchanges … smile )
The Gang Touring All Ireland

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Northern Ireland is wicked cool …. Just ignore the terrorist and bombing and you’ll be fine

Graveyard Stone With Cool Markings
Now entering Free Derry ….

First stop was Derry or London Derry or Free Derry. We did stop at small sites along the way seeing a graveyard and a small town for lunch. That’s the thing about tours … you don’t get to choose … you just follow. Plus since the bus had almost all Australians with the exception of me from Malaysia and two girls from Canada …. I was practically on a party bus of GET DRUNK EVERY NIGHT TOUR.

I remember Derry as a the place we went to spend a night and got drunk. We went to a  pub where there were so many locals and I practically stood out. Locals just came up and started talking and one even grab me for a dance. I also got introduce to the one song that everyone somehow knows how to sing … or will know how to sing if you ever set foot in Ireland … Galway Girl … now downloaded and saved in my mp3 list.

Looking back I realized Derry was a solemn place … coming from a multiracial community back home Derry was a sad place to me.
Free Derry
Rope Bridge
Day two on the tour was Belfast … but along the way we visited the giant causeway seeing natural forms of hexagonal pillars from volcanic lava cooled rapidly by the sea forming basalt stone structures… there was of course a mythic story to it like a fairytale which I was still a bit hangover to read the full story off the post. The view in one word astonishing. One small thrill was crossing a small wobbly wooded rope bridge which had a huge drop to the ocean.

Belfast was late in the evening and almost all of us hop on the black cab taxi tour. The black cab taxi tour was one of the best of the trip. We had these cabs which took us around Belfast explaining to us how much the catholic and protestant there hate each other and built a wall to separate their community and that there was only 3% of mixed community. The black cabs was used during the old days as a hitman vehicle hence if you see one normally you go running …. But now they use it to ferry tourist who will shoot you down with photographs. Like Derry there was also amazing murals painted all over the city with the recent peace agreement on 1998.

The Monalisa of Belfast ... That Eye will follow you while you walk from left to right

The three old chaps taxi drivers that took us around and told us stories was a blast . One even started the tour guide with safety instructions …

“If I RUN ,…. YOU RUN !!”

We all came from peaceful place hence we did not thought much about it … it wasn’t until all the history and stories of the terrorism in Belfast and the reason behind it that we realized he was f*cking serious. 1998 is only quite recent if you think about it … still 1st generation …. They still hate each other I guess
The unforgettable was the dung poop joke.

“Stand off the grass! You want to keep that leg you héar me”
“Here in Belfast they mixed gunpowder into the dog food so becareful where you step .. Coz if you step on dog poop you might just loose a leg” 

* After two minutes* His partner says …

“Dun believe that bloke … he’s full of crap”

Belfast was a slow night still we did drink quite a bit. I for that one day retired early .. 1 am

My uncle’s quote when I met him a few weeks later back in England

“ I told you whatever you do, don’t go to Northern Ireland for its not safe …. and what do you do …. Go to bloody northern Ireland …. Well you are back and safe now at lease”

I told him it look pretty nice and safe while I was there …. He cited a bombing reported in the newspaper the day after I left Belfast …. Oh well ….

Monday, 16 December 2013

Tour Guided Traveling can be fun too while backpacking

My first experience of a minibus tour was way back in 2005 when I went to Scotland for a few days and ended up staying there for almost 10 days going on a Haggis Adventures… but that’s a story for another time …

Ireland had such a tour running around and if you are familiar with Contiki , or TopDeck then you would know it is not the usual Tour run company. So even on the first day itself in Ireland I  noticed the pamphlets and brochures along the hostel reception mainly Shamrocker Adventures

I was definitely becoming lazy for one … before seeing the brochures I was still cracking my head on which city to visit and how to get there … beautiful countryside country I had learned such as Scotland and Ireland cant be explored by public transportation … you need a car … or the next best thing … a minibus tour …. Now all I needed to do was sign up … and pay the fees of course …

The Hunt for the minibus tour Package Begins

After three days of searching I finally found a tour package. Always the trouble of not planning is that the timing will screw you up somehow. Yet if you did plan well one delay will screw you upside down. You choose

Paddywagon Tours
Well the first thing was radical travels partner Shamrocker had a full booking for the five days southern Ireland tour and I was left stranded with too many days in Dublin. By some wicked luck on Saturday I decided to book a three days tour next Friday only to find these people was not working.

Hence the hostel recommended  Paddywagon Tours which I did not knew exist. Their leaflet said max only 3 days but hola when I was about to book it over the counter at another place down the street grumbling about the short duration of the tour and how much time I had in Ireland … the lady plucked out a booklet from under the table with a whole list of tours available under Paddywagon with even a 10 days all Ireland tour.

Alas I settle for a 6 days all Ireland Tour and all gleeful to depart the next day 299 euro all inclusive except food.

So the generic itinerary  I got for the 6 Days was like the picture below following the red line

I’ll need few post to cover the entire trial and highlights

Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Land of Guinness Stout - Dublin

Touchdown Dublin …. I was traveling again ….

So immigration looked at me as asked the most standard question of all …

Officer    : How long are you Staying in Ireland ?
Me     : About 2 weeks I think
Officer    : Why not more? You Should stay at lease a month or more .
Me     : speechless ……

This had never happen to me before at a immigration officer desk ….  I’ll think about it I told her and asked for a longer stamp date ... :)

First stop … nearest pub to try the Guinness Stout …

My First Guinness in Ireland ... with my Brunch

Now I had tried the black goody back in Asia in my home country Malaysia where they actually brew the stuff and I did’nt like it …. but since its been such a long time since I had it, the night before I flew from Bradford to Dublin I decided to go to a pub in Yorkshire with my cuz and order half a pint of Guinness to re-kindle the taste …. It still did’nt grow on me ….

So at the bar at 10 am in the morning …. I probably look like a alcoholic … oh well

Me         : I heard the Guinness here is different ?
Bartender    : Here ?
Me         : Ireland …. Better than other places … far far away
Bartender    : Taste better here … your first pint in Ireland ?
Me         : Yep. One pint then ….

I got the first hand look at a properly poured Guinness Stout …. Poured at a tilted angle ¾full of the way … left there for about 2 minutes for it to settle
( You had to really wait for your Guinness )
Continue back pouring but straight down …. And the last part I could not get … he must have hidden it from me … but make a flower pattern at the top head of the Guinness ….
( I later found out its was a shape as a four leaf clover … a Shamrock )

As for the taste … lets just say back home I would not have drank it every day every meal

It was definitely better in Ireland

Friday, 22 November 2013

The best pit stop - Visiting family relative while extended traveling

Nowadays the world has became a smaller place. I used to hear that a lot when I was growing up and the phrase “It’s a small world” seem like a true fact with airplanes and especially cheap flights. Not only that its so easy now to connect with halfway across the world with the internet as long as you have a reception.

Still when you plan a long extended trip and have no idea where to go, suddenly the list of place you could explore never seam to end. 6 months seam too short and even a year or two could not seam to fit all the places I wanted to visit.
York Minster

Family seam to be all over the world too nowadays with people migrating, working and studying abroad. I was one of the fortunate ones to have quite a few relative of sorts and one of them was in England, Yorkshire.

Family does wonders when traveling … they are your first ties that you keep in touch, support and keep you going after your dream … as long as you get past that initial homesick withdrawal. Its like a sense of security as well knowing that if any emergency happens you have a phone call away that you know no matter the cost they would drop everything they are doing and fly to wherever you are to get you back to home.

Of course knowing someone is watching your back does sometimes have its bad side effects such as going the more dangerous route and taking more risk.

Extended families such as uncles and aunt or cuz for that matter that are in another country makes wonderful pit stops where you could loose that sense of uptight from traveling alone so long. No longer having to worry if some stranger you just met is going to pinch something off your backpack while you are sleeping or thinking what to do for dinner makes a very different long awaited rest. Don’t get me wrong … I tend to sleep in a lot during the travels and was always over rested but the rest of the mind was another thing altogether

The other best part I loved for the pit stop was the familiarity …. No longer needing to go through the introductions …. They know you … your good part and also your bad habbits … complains was also a welcome such as naggings since you seldom get those from newly made stranger friends … or at lease if it does happen you just don’t talk to them. Conversation changes to a deeper meaning when old families or friends that are not afraid to pinch a sore wound just to disturb you.

Well I pit stopped two weeks over Christmas to New Years in 2011/2012 …. Got feed well and was ready for my next big leg to America …. But not untill a short ride up Ireland first and a few more towns I have never been before in England J

Sunday, 17 November 2013

What to do on a Transport Strike Day -Brussels

Remember when I said the choice of staying in a hostel far far away was going to come back to haunt me … well it was on a Sunday in Brussels a beautiful morning when I woke up to find out there was non- public transport whatsoever for the day due to a planned strike.

Now the expensive hike rate for the hostels in town on this particular day suddenly make sense … Now I know why the hostel I stayed was so cheap ….

So what can you do on a Strike Day ……. my thoughts on what should I do and actually did….

Try to catch a plane …
You are screwed … book another ticket … luckily for me … my flight was the next day Monday … Phew … but for those that somehow have the unfortunate schedule to be flying on a strike day, take full comfort that the flight will most probably continue without you if you don’t reach that airport in time for check in. Beg someone to drive you there and pay him …  unless its cheaper to book a new ticket for the next day …

Stay in bed and Slack away
I was seriously contemplating doing this for the whole day, just stay at the hostel where I was alone in a 4 bed bunk bedroom with no one around pure quiet bliss write in my journal, sleep … laundry if I had the chance …. A stay in day … a break within a break … but alas this hostel really haunted me for there was no food whatsoever even closeby. I was hungry by lunch and had to go out hunting and after 1km of walk I still couldn’t find any food stall … it was a Sunday … hence most places closes outskirt of town 
Meniken Piss ... I had my lunch somewhere nearby

Do Cabs go on strikes too ???
I really don’t know about this one but I swear I did not see a single cabby the whole day let alone a bus … subway was fully closed  … that plan was out the window quick enough

Try to Hitch Hike to Central Town
I actually started walking in the direction of the main city where I knew plenty of tourist within the old quarters will keep stores open and food would be available. Hunger was driving me now and not really the urge to visit places … so I put my tumb out … with no luck since although outskirt of town it was still in the town …. Quite rare for people to hitch hike in town I guess …. No luck there

Walk to Central Town
This was what actually happen … I walked 3 hours to reach the center of the city of Brussels. Immediately head for one of those restaurants near the old square … cost me 45euro for lunch …. Bah … I was hungry …. I still had to walk back to the hostel I realized

Christmas Shopping
With the amount of time I need to spend walking into town and back I did my last minute Christmas gift shopping for my relative since I was flying to see them the next day at York. Good old Swarovski Crystal … bought three of em and it was done in 10 minutes …

Last roll of the Dice - Casino Brussels
And to shed light in to a gloom day … I visited the casino and got all my Christmas presents for free …. I was friends again with my old buddy after what happened in Netherlands ….

Walk Back home - Don’t forget some takeaway
Alas the slow walk back to the hostel with takeaway in the bag …

Thursday, 31 October 2013

It’s a Comical City - Brussels

Brussels was my ticket out of the Euro zone with my free stamp visa reaching dangerously close to the 90 days. The hostel I choose was relatively very far from the city requiring a train ride almost 20 minute and another 20 minute walk along the road. It was cheap basically but fairly good in condition.

The choice would come back to haunt me later.

One beauty of staying so far away from the city was that you get to see the local lifestyle. A bit boring for a tourist still it was real. The hostel was actually in a sports hall where people book courts, played basketball , squash, tennis, gym, and almost anything you can think off. I was brought pass all the sports court and at the back linked by a small bridge was the hostel managed by the sports hall itself.

There was plenty of rooms in very good condition with all the facilities minus a kitchen. There was no kitchen …

The choice would come back to haunt me later.

Hopping back onto the train I headed to explore the city of Brussels. The first that I immediately notice was all the mural painting of comical characters on building all around the city. Apparently being the home of quite a few famous comic writers such as Peyo - Smurf ,  Herge - Tintin, Edgar - Blake & Mortimer  and many more I was not aware off.

I found that many of the artworks were just round the corner but intentionally missing the busy street of the tourist.

Hence the start of the hunt of Comics Graffiti Begins.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Last Minute Stop - Luxemburg

You know when sometimes you just want to be a bloody tourist ??? I know a lot of people who shun the tourist mentality and would prefer full independence travel anytime over a tour guide …. I am partially guilty of it but sometimes … you just cant avoid acting like a tourist ….

Luxemburg was one of those times I guess. I just wanted to add one more country to count of my journey … 
The Only Hostel in Luxemburg

From Gent I bought a return ticket to Luxemburg…. RETURN ticket … thou I was never going to use it … apparently according to the train ticket booth seller if I buy the return instead of the one way journey it was actually cheaper than buying two individual tickets to Luxemburg and then to Brussels. Must be something to do with the imaginary international border line whereby ticket crossing country can be quite expensive. But buying a return ticket means you will be coming back so it was good and cheaper.

41 Euro for a Return Ticket to Luxemburg from Gent

So I got the return ticket to Luxemburg which will serve as my ticket to Brussels from Luxemburg and if someone’s lucky passed on the next person that would be going to Gent from Brussels at the hostel …. We all help each other … backpacking strangers helping strangers every little bit to save money …. Like leaving food in the common kitchen label free for all …

Luxemburg … was beautiful … but boring to boot … well maybe it was winter so nothing much was going around. The city was like a castle in a epic fantasy book where the river or ravine spew in a circle around the city and was so deep that if it was not for the bridges it would take forever to cross over.

Down the ravine the semi outer city was a eerie place at night. Yet if you have a friend with you I would definitely suggest venturing around looking for a pub …. Its almost mystical at night.

Daytime nearby was a old ruin of some sort … did not really understand what that was but it looked interesting enough to wonder about for 3 hours …. Of the things I discovered were some weird fucking sculpture ….

Weird Fucking Sculpture

Luxemburg City

Luxemburg City

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Passing By Town - Gent

Days were numbered as Christmas was coming close and I had promised my uncle and aunt that I would drop by in York then. My cuz just had his first born son, and my uncle was leaving me messages saying everything was hectic … so I decided to skip hop a few more towns and try to make it to Yorkshire by Christmas eve instead of a week earlier.

Gent was one of those force to go places.

Its different from unplanned like Antwerp, Bruges, Bratislava for this was forced to go. Somewhat like Igounomenitsa in Greece I was originally planning to hit Luxemburg directly from Bruges, but there were no hostels on a Saturday night. Left with no choice I stopped in gent for a night and visited as much as I could for the short amount of time I was there. 

It was a fascinating town but not enough to hold me here even if I had time to do so. I did try finding a jazz bar which was suppose to play everyday but was disappointed when no one played when I was there.

Still at lease there old streets to explore and a ‘little glass street’

Best shot of the day … sneakers artwork

Sneakers Artwork

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Blood of Christ - Brugges

Brugge Beer
Belgium is pretty small and with high speed trains it was so easy to get from one place to another …. All within a few hours … for a price … Yet it was not the pricy train tickets like in Germany or Switzerland hence I was happy to hop around more frequently.

Initially my plan was to visit Brussels … that was the only city I marked out during the initial planning stage back before I started … but then I knew nothing about Belgium other than the chocolates that friends and family buys back as treats from airports.

Lucky thing was that all the hostel in Belgium had this small little local city tourist map in cartoon form that also recommends other towns and city in Belgium. So next stop after Antwerp was Brugges.

Local one way train ticket was 13.70 Euro .

Brugges was an amazing old old old …. Super old town feel where the whole inner city was like a town in medieval time frozen. Try to ignore the electricity and modern plumbing and some modern lights but other than that it was fascinating.

Towards the center of the old city the square opens up into majestic buildings such as clock towers and town halls and the mystical church which I read in the lonely planet book about a relic.

Brugge Old Town Square
Attendant watching the Holy Blood of Christ
It took me a while to find the church since I mistakenly went into the town hall but there it was small, not so glamorous, yet attracted pilgrimage all over the world. The church apparently claimed to have a tiny bottle of Christ’s blood in their possession and was on display for any whom might want to see, touch ( only the tube not the blood itself ), photograph, or pray. 

I being curious of course would not miss going in to see it with my own eyes. There was not many people I guess in winter. Christian’s would stroll up to the attendant which sole job was to watch the tube which contained Christ’s Blood while people place their hand on top of the tube and say a silent prayer. The attendant would then wipe the top of the tube after the first person had left for the next person to repeat the same process. Then there was of course the tourist which would stroll up and politely ask for a photograph, Click and on their way ….

As of how it look like … I guess you just have to visit Brugge

Basilica of the Holy Blood

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Antwerp …

Antwerp Train Station
Three nights in Antwerp and I would say it’s a nice and peaceful getaway from my holiday. The hostel (Abhostel) had a guitar that I played every night once everyone was clear of the common room … it was a super huge common room too and barely anyone around the hostel. Plus time I picked up a book called ‘The six scared stones’and finish it in the two days I was in the hostel. A good read only if it did end … to be continue on the second book …. What ?? Shit !! I have somehow picked up a series and had no way of getting the sequel to the books.

There is not much to do in Antwerp unfortunately unless you are on a shopping trip for apparently they say it’s a fashion town. Don’t ask me whys that but I guess it’s a local branding to mark an attraction to tourist ?? It was stated in the guide book as well but as any backpacker … shopping … nah … window shopping is the best I could live with.

Antwerp Shopping District
For the art buff, if you know him the painter Ruben was from Antwerp and his house has became a museum of sorts. I visited the house and it was surprisingly good filled with many painting I don’t understand … the other main attraction was the towns cathedral with was filled with Rubens painting of huge scale … I mean the paintings hung was larger than a normal human height .. It was unique in its own way.

Not so well advertised, Antwerp also had a red light district very similar to Amsterdam only the girls were not as hot or pretty as Amsterdam. Look for the top right corner of the local town map. Bearing North west

Out of the blue Dad sent me a sms message 3 am in the morning asking if I was alright. I replied yes and went back to sleep. … later that day when the hours were suitable for communication I was asking what was the sms for instead of a normal watsapp message which was free. Apparently somewhere in Belgium there had been a crazy man shooting people in the streets and a few had died. Well carry on with the holiday … onwards to Bruges !!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

How to go from Holland to Belgium for 3 euro

I was woken up in the morning by Tweety Pie housemate coming back from Rotterdam as early as 6 am in the morning. It was ruckus at the house and before I knew it I was sitting and lighting a cigarette trying to wake up slowly. On the table I observed lied so many little white powder, pills, and some weed among all the trash of can drinks and food ….

What’s this I asked ?? …. Estacy …. Coke …. MDMA …. Much I dunnu …. And weed naturally …

Netherlands is a cool country I said …. with all the drugs being legal ….

All this … is not legal … YOU never saw this, replied the African brothers ….

You wannar any of this “Drug Tourist” ?? They asked ….

If I wasn’t planning to move on to another country the very same day who knows what my decision might be. I politely declined the offer not knowing how strict border crossing in Europe would be. I remember some had checks on trains and busses and sometime you barely knew when you cross the border but I was in no manner about to risk it.

First option was train … but Tweety pie gave a sketchy description of how a friend of a friend of hers went to Antwerp by local bus … only a few euros and only an hour or two ride she said. I decided to give it a go and followed the first instruction which was to go to the bus terminal in Tilburg … ask for how to get to Antwerp by local bus …..

( for those hoping to find a detail description … I am sorry I have forgotten exactly how I did it )

At lease I can give comfort that it can be done … I remembered asking a lot of people for help along the way …. In general it went like this

1. From Tillburg bus station ask around for which bus go to Antwerp and hopefully some kind soul will tell you to wait in line for a bus that will take you to the border where you need to get down and change bus company.

2. Get on the bus …. Double check with bus driver

3. End of the line for the bus and everyone will get down …. Just follow

4. Ask around like mad again for which line to queue up to go to Antwerp … normally most people go back on that bus anyway but just in case … ASK

5. Get on the bus …. Look out for Antwerp

You know you have just beaten the tourist traps when you learn how to cross one country to another for a mere few coins drop into the public local bus transport.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Hello Fellow Traveler …. If You Ever Visit (Insert Home Place) Come Stay at My Place - Tillburg

It seamed like a long time ago since I was in Florence the beginning of my trip and the wonderful friends I made at the hostel. Here I was waiting at Tillburg train station nervous and waiting for “Tweety Pie” to come pick me up. It was so casual back then offering people you don’t know the famous words ….

“If you ever drop by my place come stay with me”

I now understand what a privilege it is to receive that offer especially from a stranger and throughout my travels I have made less and less of such offer to others regardless of how well we laugh over a bottle of wine. Tweety pie barely knew me I realized and I barely knew her …. My brief encounter with her was like only a few hours in the dorm at night for two days having idle chatter of which place best to visit and here I was waiting to be pick up to go back to her place and crash a night before heading on to Belgium.

It did cross my mind that I could had entirely skipped Tilburg and come up with some excuse of not dropping by but I decided to keep my promise to a stranger that I would drop by once I was nearby. 

Tillburg University

She look just the same cheerful and always smiling as she ring her bicycle bell waving at me. I just grinned … immediately greeting was in mandarin and I had to pause a while tuning my head to reply back. First stop was the market … good thing my back pack was compact and light … so we went shopping for food. Tweety pie said it would be my dinner and kept asking what I wanted to eat. Anything was fine I answered …

Walking around the market I couldn’t help staring at all the stuff around. Somehow the apple didin look like it was back home and everything was slightly different. Some of it I never even seen before. I actually started visiting markets or local supermarket more often on my travels later on just to see what I could find.

“Have you eaten this fruit before?? ”

Tweety pie decided to buy the weird fruit just so I could try it …. If I didn’t like it she could always eat it she said.

Food checked …. Back to the house where she shared with a few other university housemates made out of entirely fully international or great mix of people. I was relieved for a while for I was not sure how I would have reacted if the whole house were to be Chinese speaking. Names were too short to remember but in general there was a black adopted brothers who grew up in dutch …. A lesbian couple … a few more girly girls, some wise ass guy and Tweaty Pie friend from china who came to visit her from another block.

Weird Fruit .... Definitely not peach !!
Soon it was time to cook for dinner and surprisingly I was cooking …. “HUH ???” Tweety could barely cook and I was rummaging through her kitchen looking for ingredients and making up stuff to cook as I go. Tweety and friend had big droopy eyes looking at me cooking asian food … My guess was they had only ever seen people cook spaghetti in Holland. Dinner was fun … with some over seasoned soup due too much salt accidentally spilled into the bowl.

Her housemate left us alone by 8 pm with all of them heading to Rotterdam for a nightclub. I was invited after a thought but turned it down as I could see Tweety was not the party type. So it was just me Tweety and her chinese girlfriend post dinner. I had to try the mystical fruit that I had never seen before … taste like peach … texture like apple … interesting …

By 10 pm it was time to crash the couch … my first crash in a stranger / new friends house …

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Architecture in Rotterdam ….

Building in Rotterdam are weird …. If Picasso was an architect I think this was where most of his client would be. Weird crazy funk house and building everywhere in Rotterdam.

I tot it was kinda cool and also I couldn’t help wondering if I was to be the engineer building this shit … how would I do it ?

Unfortunately that was all I could find in Rotterdam …. Walk around and admire modern architectural building …. Hence the short photo blog

Thursday, 8 August 2013

A Familiar face after a long time ….. Rotterdam

Anticipation filled me after a long time for this was the first stop where I would meet an old Raffles Hall (University Hostel) buddy who was at Rotterdam studying for a master degree. I had not met a soul from my past life for nearly three months and this was going to be a first time. Everyone else I interacted never knew my past … and of course you choose what to reveal … or make up …

“Bang”was a junior of mine of the same discipline … Civil Engineering and a fellow sportsman of the local sports back home ‘Sepak Takraw’. I was excited but at the same time nervous for its been a really long time since I met someone whom I could not erase off my face book and know they will never find me again …

CATCH UP …. DRINKS at a PUB Nightclub

Wifi & Internet surely saved my phone bill and we figured out a date and place to meet up.

“We’ll go for drinks at a pub”, Bang said …
“Meet you at Asian Night at 1145 pm”, Bang said ….

I was still puffing as much weed as I could consume knowing time was running short and I would have to part with it in the near future at the Belgium border. Came time for the meet up I was outside this mystical PUB …. That looked like a Nightclub …. The queue was crazily long and for being in Europe … there was lots of Asians around …

Me & Bang Outside the Night Club- Rotterdam

For a moment I thought I was really high … or maybe its just different definition of Pubs in Rotterdam. Bang arrived in a old fashion Netherlands style bicycle and for a moment it was back to ole self just like back home. Later I found out I was tricked into going to a Nightclub which was a special event called Asian Night where all the Asians in the city goes for clubbing … feel closer to home kinda feel. Bah … Should’ve known from the name itself …

I was happy as long as I had by drugs and alcohol, but my friend seam to be on the prowl …. I gave him the raised eyebrow … like “what the hell have you been up too” …. unfortunately I got the same look back from him as well since I been traveling crazily … then again I still get them till this day …. Side effect from traveling the world … people look at you slightly differently …

Happy and Merry getting drunk after a long long time …. I rarely got drunk during my travels …. Was overly cautious since I was alone ….. But the weed speed up things …. And when the party died down it was back home to the hostel for me. Bang gave me a ride on the antique bicycle …. He told me it was illegal to pillion on a bicycle in Holland but WTH …

Friday, 2 August 2013

Don’t mix two vices …. At the same time …. Its just trouble

Old habits die hard …. And with all the casinos at every corner of Amsterdam it was almost impossible not to go in and have a look. Nice old parlor type where everything was automated …. Either slots of electronic roulette. Part of me thought it was an arcade center for the adults since they only accepts coins. You take your notes and bills and go to the cashier and change them for coins in a big tub.

When you win you get coins too … It really was like an arcade … a dangerous one …

I tried avoiding going in as long as I could …. Passed by like a dozen casino the first day and never stepped in. Planned my route to visit Rembrandt House, scout the famous red light district … and even tried going to comedy club for a night.
Chicago Boom Comedy Club - Amsterdam

Chicago Boom … it was called and for 15 euro I was lined up for a evening stand up comedy show. Partially high just to ensure the jokes would be funny but after a while I realized it was unfounded. These guys are good …. Best part was they even tried something along the “Who’s Line is it Anyway” freestyle and it was hilarious …

Temptations & Seductions

I knew my poison by now after visiting so many gambling joint in all the city.

Clink , Clink …. I was popping coins into the machines trying my luck or rather just trying out how well I would fair gambling while high. I lost count how many casino I had visited while I was in Amsterdam not counting how often I visited them. I did know however the damage …. After counting how much I draw and how much money was missing from my light wallet.

1000 euro … SHIT ….

I started comforting myself that it was alright …

“Just draw some money and go win it all back “, my devilish mind playing tricks …..

I decided then NO gambling while intoxicated …. But damn it wasn’t as fun thou …. So I decided to avoid casino and just stick to the weed joints since I knew once I leave Holland for that matter I will most probably never touch it again ….


But one vice always leads to another like a brother of sin …strip bar .... another story for another time ...

Monday, 29 July 2013


I amsterdam
Of all the charm Amsterdam can offer the only thing people usually remembers are the vices. I mean look at the inner city itself with all the beautifully laid cannels, top class museums, historic places such as Anne frank house and all the nicely old buildings leaning on each other … I for one was also guilty of not paying attention to them.

Vices …. Where you have 5 deadly sins … Gluttony , sloth , greed , lust , envy …. I saw it all in Amsterdam and it was legal …. Heck if its legal how can it be a sin !!

This was a city like no other …. Still since internet is so open and I don’t want to get shut down or reveal too much of my deep dark secrets … I will have to carefully select what to tell I guess

First Joint in Amsterdam
Weed & Munchies

Buying legal weed …. Where back home in Malaysia or Singapore it would be a death sentence …. Hence I was smoking away everyday. Problem is thou I was not experience with these drugs nor was I with any fellow travelers. I was really alone in Amsterdam for the whole week I was there. I could barely remember talking to another person there.

The first stop was the weird awkwardness where I had no idea how to buy weed. There was like a list … or a menu for you to choose and I had no idea what to do.

Beautiful Canals in Amsterdam
“Hi, how do I buy weed?’ ….. I got a glare from the shopkeeper …. Probably thinking bloody tourists …

“Erm … I don’t know how to roll a joint, can you help ?”…… another glare … he took back my weed and handed me a pre rolled joint instead …. 5 euros ….

Sat down …. Smell the joint …. It smelt to me like a weird spicy sting, pungent yet it gave the impression it would be delicious … smoking delicious … it was a weird moment

It soon became my routine everyday to buy a joint in the morning smoke … head for a kebab brunch … get more weed …. Stroll around Amsterdam randomly …. And somehow always pass by the red light district … more weed … more weed …. More kebabs … more weeds … more kebabs ….

Space Muffin & Van Gogh

With me experimenting the limits of my own body I was curious enough to buy a space muffin …. A smaller version of space cake plus … I was alone hence could not consume a whole cake.

The problem was the amount that I had to consume …. I was afraid of how it might hit me and was a little worried at that point …. Instructions says … eat half if its your first time and consume the rest after two hours ….

Space Muffin cooked with 0.5 (something … I think its grams) of cannabis

It was in a sealed wrapper but as soon as I opened it the smell was so strong I was afraid I would smoke out the hostel. Strong it was the smell and so inviting yet the first bite of the muffin made me wanted to puke. It was surprisingly difficult to eat for it tasted so bad like rotten food yet it smelled so delicious … and tasted so yucky …

I managed to force down 1/3 of the muffin and decided to wrapped up the rest … waited two hours and I could feel the effects starting to seep in. Consuming was apparently much more intense than smoking it. It hits me slowly but boy did it last for hours. Everything was much sharper … colors more vibrant, smell mingle with others, simple things were funny …. I was much more lazy as well …. And the munchies never ends ….

I was at the hostel the whole time staying in experimenting my first consumption of cannabis. Partly I was afraid as well as I was alone. So 1/3 was the magic piece and slept early that night only to wake up next morning nearly noon.

This time it was time to bring it outside …. I took another 1/3 of the space muffin and planned my route to the Van Gogh museum. Slow walk … grab some kebabs … and just in time 2 hours later I was standing dopey in front of the ticket counter of Van Gogh museum buying a ticket smiling.

Van Gogh painting were beautiful …. ….

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Pit Stop Eindhoven for Japanese Buffet

Finally I would make my way to the Netherlands where I heard the people are well educated that vices does not need to be banned as they are able to distinguish the use and proper means of self control.

Train ride crossing borders always scares me for some reason. I find it thrilling every time I cross a border to another country. Like a little kid opening his present wondering what he would find I was always delighted by new things. The more cultural shock the happier I became …. I usually blend in immediately unless I was oblivious to it then some form of apology was always good once someone enlighten me.

Vivid imagination of smuggling or events of mischief does not help too when crossing the border. Don’t look at the security guard too much …. don’t fidget … now if I were to smuggle something how do I get pass this border … hmmm …. Unfortunately I was in Europe where borders dun have any checkpoints so only a window was my company for crossing countries.

Eindhoven Train Station
Little Town Eindhoven and my First Asian Meal in a Long Long Time

Eindhoven was a small town, so small that I could not find a hostel there to bunk a night. I decided however to stop by for a quick look while I was en route to Amsterdam. After all the slow train ticket allows you to hop off and on back as long as its within the date stamped and along the same direction of the final destination.

The first thing I saw when I walked out the station with my backpack was the Japanese Restaurant across the road. Thinking it would cost me a fortune I walked on, followed the little foot traffic there was to see where the main square is. Not as crazy as Koln but it was a nice petite town and shopping was in season. I guess Christmas affect all of Europe.

So a stroll around Eindhoven looking for lunch led me back to the Japanese Restaurant. I haven’t had rice since …. a long long time … let alone sushi. They had a buffet style lunch where you pay one price and order as much as you want.

Best part was instead of getting your own food like a buffet you actually pick out your food in the menu and the cook would prepare it fresh and serve it to you. Buffet apparently mean eat as much as you want but with a normal dine in feel.

Sushi , Sashimi, Yakitori, Grilled Saba, Miso Soup, Unagi, I had no idea how much I missed it till I started eating. For a small size person like me I think the waiter was suppressed how much I stuffed down thou I managed to do it with a little dignity. Secretly I was trying to stuff down dinner as well since it was nearly 3pm

And the cost of the Asian lunch craving was 22 euro.

Little did I know I would be back to eating Asian meals in the very near future.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Cologne & My Christmas Present

Cathedral at Koln

The border town to LALA Land … (Lala stands for Happy / Dream world / Crazy / High)

So close to Holland …. Where I would be called a drug tourist in the near future but that’s a story in the future.

So Cologne or Koln as they spell it with a small dash above the ‘n’ has a nice medieval feel to it with a humongous cathedral smack in the middle of the city. Although not as grand as some others but due to the small town size in comparison this cathedral, it stood out majestically.


Like any other town and after so many of em … my memory is stating to filter which bits are memorable enough to be retained.

( Also writing about it after a year plus doesn’t help )

The locks which I so often see around Europe was filled on grills on one of the main bridge crossing the major river cutting the town in half. From what I guess, Couples or loved ones would buy a lock …. As fancy as you can find …. Write each others name down and lock it o

So once a year or once in a lifetime or whatever, whenever you and your loved one comes back to the place the idea is to see that the locks stays through, unbroken throughout the year.

Love Locks - If you notice the Cut out Portion
Of course that’s if the municipal decided to let these irritating happy couples locks remain on the fence and does not become a sore eyes in terms of beauty. Then there is also the break ups … If you break up … come back with a huge cutter and rip that lock out of the fence like a big heartbreak …


Koln was one nice little shopping district town. Boy how the girls would love it especially near Christmas where not only the shopping district is so crowded by people doing Christmas present shopping, the Christmas market also feed into the shopping atmosphere making the town feel like one huge giant shopping center. All roads were closed to vehicles too so with the foot traffic its was like a stampede.

I joined in the shopping mood for once after a long time and was searching for a pair of glasses. I was still depending on my one and only glasses that I wore since the spare was stolen in the first fli
nto the grill (which is a fence to keep people from the main vehicle traffic) and throw aw
ay the key into the river.
My Self Christmas Present 2011
ght from Kuala Lumpur to Athens. So if by some bad luck it broke … ( It was already flimsy ) I would have been screwed.

The casino earning just before at Leipzig helped boost my morale for a good pair of glasses. In the end I got just the frame brand from Jaguar. My self Christmas Present J