Monday, 29 February 2016

Approach by White Boy speaking Mandarin in Copenhagen

First day or morning in Copenhagen and first walk out to explore the new city and while walking towards the centre and while waiting for the little green man to light up, a Dannish Guy(White Boy), in good semi-formal attire, glasses, clean cut walked up to me smiled and introduce himself to me all in Mandarin.

Err …. Ok so I tried to remember what little mandarin I knew and he continue on like I was the new friend he just met in the pub and we were not waiting at a street junction for a little green man to light up.

How is Malaysia ?
You guys speak at least 3 language right ?
Weather must be very cold there ?
How do you like Denmark so far ? Is it your first time in Denmark ?

His shots of question all in perfect Chinese-Mandarin like rapid fire and this went on with me doing my best to answer back in Mandarin, mostly in one word answer and finally I gave up and told him his Mandarin was much better than mine.
No problem he retorted in Mandarin. It was good conversing with you he said.
I ...... Was ........ speechless ........
He bade me goodbye when the little green man finally light up and in my mind I was thinking HUH !!!

I thought there was going to be something more to this unusual conversation. When he approach me I was already on guard, flash back to Milan, London and Chicago on all the scams I had experience so when he started conversation in Mandarin, my hands went to my pocket first and stayed there wondering if I would be pick pocket while this charming Dannish guy distract me with marvellous Mandarin, I even slide my eyes one time to my back and check if my side carry was secure. All discreetly done of course.
Nothing happen and I walked off still on guard half turning around to see the nice guy approaching the next Asian looking Mandarin speaking tourist not 3 steps away from where we were. I then notice a Chinese guy that was behind him quietly observing like a teacher watching a student displaying his Kung Fu in front of the stage for the first time.
I smiled at my own paranoia, still better safe than sorry.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Flying into Copenhagen-Denmark & a 66 Bed Dorm

Flying into Europe and immigration ask me the one question I really hate.
Do you have enough money to travel 3 months in Europe ?
Why do they do that … or rather why do they do that to me ?
Do I look like a person who would travel without money ?
Sheesh ….

My retort was simple enough …. Yes I said …. I am backpacking for a year and have been on the road for 8 months now.
He gave me a wide grin and a little envy look and wish me all the best with entry stamp. Backpacker privilege I guess …. You can travel anywhere if you are a backpacker even if you don’t have money.

Train to city centre was simple enough and the walk to the hostel that I pre booked from was pretty easy.
66 bed dorm …. Oh my I was wondering how it would be like, a little excited and also a little dread of horror I guess and I arrive at the City Public Hostel. Funny that it was called that .. Public Hostel, as if it was a charity thing but it was nowhere as cheap as other parts of Europe. Scandinavia was expensive and that was why I was even considering a 66 bed dorm.

Got in and a long queue at the reception. It’s a full house today the reception guy said to a couple in front and I rolled my eyes wondering how a 66 bed dorm could be fully booked. I was banking that most people would avoid a 66 bed dorm hence it would not be as bad as it seam but … It was really fully book …. And that was not the only room in the hostel.
It was indeed a 66 bed dorm and I had to pay extra for linen and bedsheets as well. The dorm was set in somewhat a basketball or some indoor court. They had low partition built in like an office cubicle hence although a 66 bed big indoor court it was well separated into cubicles of 4 each with each his own small lockers. Interesting indeed and not as bad as I thought.

Just like that … Family break and safezone was over ….  I was back on the road … time to start exploring
A typical street in Copenhagen.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

The Old Pit Stop in England ….. Visiting an old Friend & Family

It’s always an excitement and also a dread meeting with family. They know all the knicks and knacks of your life, the good, the bad and the ugly. The few little secrets you have left with you, they will try to pry out slowly or at lease pry out someone else’s secret from you. It’s part of a family thing. The need to know you to the soul for skin deep is not enough. Knowing can also be insufficient at times and a partial hold on your soul would be much seek after. Still we all miss family. It’s a special bond.

For that reason England will always be on my list whenever I pass by Europe. For George whom I may not see again one day and for the innocent’s young ones which are still un-corrupted of the world.
This time it was a really short stop by not lingering more than I really have to I guess. 4th time being here in England and the novelty wears off as a tourist. Instead I now think of England or rather Yorkshire as a genuine pit stop while travelling the world, so much that a few months before arriving I was already planning what kinda supply and errands I would need to get when I arrive. In this case, it was a pair of Jeans to replace my really warned out Jeans that was patch and repatch with sewing kit repeatedly all the while thinking, it will make it to England and finally a good pair of Clarks walking shoes. Never underestimate a good sturdy pair of shoes while on the road. Last but not lease, a visit to Malaysia Airlines to change the One World Flight itinerary.  

Day 2, I took the train in the morning to see George and it was as if time had stop the first time I visited him so long ago (13 years ago). I got off the train and he was there standing and waiting, the same picture as I remember so long ago with his standard shift and Tie and a cap twitching in his hands.
I showed some of my pictures on the road to George, told some stories and he told some back to me, had lunch with the nostalgic Fish & Chips and a short walk at the Dam Park. 13 years since the first time I set foot in England. He was a strong man then at 77 walking for hours in the fields with me puffing behind. If the only thing I notice that change, it was his walking pace has slowed down to my pace now.
Time flies and soon it was time to go. George sent me to the train station just in time to catch the last train and waved me off …. I wonder if I will ever see him again ….. till then, he would be the only person to enjoy the post cards from around the world from a dear friend.

Lil Ones …
Off to Cambrige to visit Cuz Jon and his family and meet the kids for the first time. Jon and little Sam was in the Car waiting for me near the train station. Little Sam eyeball me a while quietly but soon become friendly. I kind miss the times when he was shy of me I guess … he now wants to play all the time. The boundless energy of the younger ones. Good thing Jon and Liz had them trained to sleep early at 6 in the evening …. Peace for a few hours a day. Emily was a cute button. Took a while for her to warm up to me but after that was a lovely little girl that just tickle the inner soul and bring out that sunshine smile in you always.

Cambridge to London-Staines to visit Wei. Baby Bella was so cute … I spend much time giving away anything I had on me to become her toy including my tablet, phone and anything she laid her eyes on. Took it all back later of course when she slept .... she wont remember it anyway ...
Few days of baby playing and soul was refresh again for the road.
The Quint Town of Cambridge - England

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Food Poisoning during Travels & the unexpected help from Kampung – Paris

After 7 months of traveling who would have guessed I would get food poisoning in Paris of all places. I suspect the last culprit must me the McDonald that I took for dinner. McD has been my downfall many times after all with food poisoning. I wonder why I still go back to them after many times of suffering.

Woke up in Paris at 3am in the morning to puke out all the last meal I had (McD) and continue puking every half an hour till 8 am in the morning. Nice old fashion food poisoning that was till I got a chain event of the old Gastric back. Empty stomach from all the puking plus nothing to digest gave me a gastric in the morning so I was puking bile instead of food by 8am. Not to mention the diarrhea that follows after.

Whole body was weak, energy drained but I had to check out of the hostel. My flight was later that day to Manchester from the very very far airport Beuvais Paris. Check out and I went to the nearest Supermarket to get some banana, fruitcake, bottled water and tic tac mint. I had to force food down while I still had the mental will to do so. I remember when once upon a time the Gastric hurts so much I could not even stand up let alone eat. The toilet bowl was my best friend.
I was nearing that stage. So close that I mentally force the banana and fruitcake slowly down. Small portion, little water …. Rest and focus - repeat … I was hanging around the outside courtyard where the hostel was busy with people checking out and hanging around for wifi and breakfast.

In between my meditation zone to keep food in the belly I heard some malay speaking words. Was I mistaken?? I thought for I could not be hearing very well. I could not focus back to maintaining mental will of keeping food in belly. More small bites of fruitcake, banana and little water.

Suddenlly I got the chills, weather became cold and I went indoors sat down and curl up in the old school fetal position of sleeping on the table. Mentally I was really struggling. Focus, Focus … is that more malay I heard ? Can’t be, I haven’t seen a Malaysian in 7 months (not counting Aisyv of course) Force more food down and an hour later I was well enough to not dream of things or to think that I dream of things to really notice what was going on around me
There was really a family of Malaysian in the Paris hostel chit chatting around me in Malay. Another girl came in the common room and she was shock that the family was conversing in Malay for she was from Malaysia as well. Alamak!! …. They said hello and goodbye in just a few minutes as she was headed out and as soon as she left I asked …. Kamu dari Malaysia ??? (You from Malaysia?) The family got a shock as much as I did for they did not expected to see so many Malaysian in Paris let alone in a hostel.

Duduk diam diam dengar semua ya !!! (Quietly Listening on our conversation ar?*one raised eyebrow*)  one of the elderly makcik (Aunt) said to me …. It was not intentional I told her … I was sick …. And viola fellow countryman to the rescue and I got some medicine for stomach gastric.
A few minutes later after the medicine took effect I could hold a conversation and although I was rusty with Malay it was refreshing to speak it after so long. The asked me of my plans which led to the usual probe of questions and I asked them of theirs as well and the usual follow up questions …. They were travelling for about 11 days in Europe on a caravan …. They were just heading out and getting the caravan hired and would be driving everywhere in Europe.

I was going to Manchester to see family I said …. Pergi cari keluaga kat England dan tumbang beberapa hari sampai sakit gastric ni pulih, I said.  (Going to find relative in England I said and hopefully rest and recover from this food poisoning)
Hah … bila sakit baru cari keluaga ya – the makcik chided me (Only when one is sick that they think of family) … I couldn’t help but smile.

So they left and I got better … enough to drag myself though public transport to the airport. I was very early at the airport at 3pm while my flight was at 10pm
I was glad I reach early for once I was there, I somehow caught a fewer …. I went to the arrival hall terminal which had lesser people waiting, found a armless bench and slept there for 4 hours … getting up every half an hour for toilet and my good friend the toilet bowl and more water intake. By the time I boarded the plane that night my fever had broke and touchdown Manchester to see my Aunt and Uncle waiting for me just outside the gate.

Remembering the Makcik works of wisdom I smiled inside for I knew I was in safe hands J
Reach Yorkshire by midnight and straight to bed …. Fewer and Poisoning was done … now all I had to do was slowly nurse my tummy to full appetite health in the next few days … I have reach sanctuary at least for now …. Cant help but remember the sly smile of the makcik face chiding me that I go looking for family only when in trouble. 7 months alone … and when you fall sick you go looking for family …. Sounds familiar to Malaysian who knows what it’s about … you almost always find family only when there is some problem.

It was just coincidence that I happen to get food poisoning the day I was to fly out to see family ... but I guess it was ironic in a sense that it happen and I was chided by a Makcik Malaysian .... Like reading an old comic strip from Kee's worlds - It's a Durian Life :)