February 23, 2011 § 2 Comments
Honestly, I do, and I can’t think of anything else I would be happier doing as an intern.
I loved the experience because it was a bakery and I obviously Iove baking, the magic of ovens and the smell of freshly baked bread and how it just makes you feel all warm, fuzzy and homely inside. :] You can read more about it on Rediscover.sg.
You’ll be seeing more of it later on in the year when we launch our mini video series, there’s good news on that front that I’ll share more of when I can.
This time last year I went to Switzerland with 5 girls, this time this year I’m on internship with 3 guys. Somehow I haven’t managed to strike a balance on this front for reasons I have yet to comprehend.
Stay tuned. And if you see this by Thursday and want an A4 copy of my calendar at $20 a pop, let me know ASAP.
February 13, 2011 § Leave a Comment
So Derek and I received free tickets to Chingay from @visitsingapore on Twitter (courtesy of our boss @claudia10 who volunteered us for tickets). It was an interesting experience to watch Chingay as an adult (according to Derek, the last time he watched it live he was 80cm high… so he says).
Derek’s working on our Chingay entry for rediscover.sg now so do look out for it.
In the meantime, here’s some of my own pictures from the event. I was on the 70-200mm f2.8 L IS markII… it is a freaking amazing lens my friends, and so definitely the next major purchase I’m going to make. (Rented it this time around). Derek was on his 24-70mm f2.8 and doing video, because he said I was bullying him with my big lens.
Our seats weren’t great, we were behind the staircase rail and at the second last row from the back. Our footage and photos are hence pretty limited by the little silver of space we were standing in and trying our best not to capture too many humans from the rows in front in our shots (with limited success).
But otherwise, it was a nice experience, one I haven’t had in a long, long time, a little bit like watching NDP. There were lots of tourists enjoying the festivities and pretty fireworks too.
The lights on the red section (more expensive tickets), where the main bulk of the action took place. We were in the yellow section.
Another excited angmoh kid!
And another one!
What I liked: Enthusiastic participants! Even though Singaporean audiences are generally a passive lot, there are some performers whom you really don’t mind sharing a smile with.
Not sure where this particular group of dancers were from, they were one of the earlier ones.
A ‘Stingray’ from the Resorts World contingent.
I think this is from Segment 2, Thiruvizha Melam.
The National Danish Performance Team members were doing flips and flips and more flips!
There were quite a few belly dancing groups too.
Think this is probably a group from NUS or SIM. Nice energy and smiles!
This grandma was in her evening best and carrying herself very elegantly.
Malay community performing arts. Love it when performers really bring you in with their high energy and smiles.
What I liked the most: This particular, super high energy Jap contingent! Not sure if they were really Jap, but if you told me they were I’d believe it because the energy in their item was many times that of every other group that went past. Budo, presented by Nippon Damannaka Festival.
Outfits that (almost) knocked my socks off: Some of the outfits that were insanely aunty/crazy.
Edna Mod gone wrong?
Not a flattering fit!
Harley girls… But well, they ARE Harley girls you know, so I cannot comment.
This one, honestly, was a little bit scary in many ways.
I admire this grandma for prancing around in that outfit, but she didn’t smile once. Nope.
Outfits that were pretty funky: The animals! Somehow the seahorse cracked me up because I couldn’t imagine walking around in it.
Didn’t your momma ever teach you not to touch animals with rabid glowing eyes?
Zebra with a lot of stripes.
The seahorsies they do not look too pleased.
O hai Singapore Garrison: 501st Legion! You guys seem to be everywhere!
And yep, that’s my summary of the night’s festivities. There were fireworks too.
No great pictures of the fireworks because my 70-200mm was too close to capture anything wide. (And also I wasn’t expecting them, didn’t know there’d be fireworks!) Apart from the fireworks, they also released a whole bunch of balloon lanterns that seemed to be very Tangled inspired (for the non Disney fans, yes I am talking about the latest Disney animated remake of Rapunzel). But it was either a last minute addition or not well co-ordinated because the performers seemed a little unsure about when and whether they were supposed to release the balloon lanterns at all.
If you want to see more pictures of Chingay 2011, they’re up on my Facebook album.
Till the next entry, which I hope won’t be too long from now.
January 13, 2011 § 1 Comment
So I said I’ll blog everyday. I’m 12 days late, but here is my first #Postaday2011 entry.
Today’s topic is: What are you looking forward to this year?
Somewhere in the continuum of space and time, something shifted; and the Roman calendar announced that a new year had begun.
Nothing perceptible had changed – not one that was observable anyway. The air smelled the same, and the sky remained as dark as it did every other night when the clock struck twelve. But somewhere in the heart of every person, as the sun made it’s orbit and each slice of our world took their dutiful turns to greet this invisible newness, a sense of hope bubbled to the surface.
There is nothing like the smell of untapped potential that surrounds the concept of a ‘New Year’. The potential for change, renewing, strengthening. The potential in such a seemingly arbitrary day; a second, third, forth chance to be the person you’ve always wanted to be but have yet to become.
It it almost halfway through the first month of the year. How time flies. 50 more weeks to 2012, what are you going to do with them? Something good, I hope.
For me, I’m looking forward to a great internship experience and learning a lot, then going back to school and doing a kickass project with my FYP mates. For my personal life, I’m going to spend more time with God and learn to once again enjoy singlehood after a four-year relationship. I did not expect it to end, neither did many of my old friends, but a heart cannot be forced to love, and I cannot keep what wasn’t mine to possess. Soo… Singlehood is good, I shall enjoy it and enjoy Jesus, and enjoy a year of goodness and favour and accelerated growth!
Also one big thing I’m looking forward to, is for Noodle to finally be housebroken!!!
For the severely uninformed, and it would be really severe because I haven’t shut up about my new corgi since I got him, yes I now haz a doggeh.
Unfortunately the inexperienced members of the Lee family trained him wrongly and we’re now trying to undo the damage we caused. Noodle is now afraid to pee/poop in front of us and only does it in secret when we’re out of sight. AND he does it in all the wrong places AND decidedly tramples over everything, pee, poop and all and makes a tiring mess several times a day.
I’m almost at my wit’s end over what to do but I shall just have to be patient with him. All the websites point to my failure to train him properly (it’s never the puppy’s fault). But I have dedicated this precious new member of my family to God and know that it SHALL BE GOOD. NOODLE WILL BE A GOOD BOY. Yes.
So like any proud mother, the rest of the entry is going to be pictures of the adorable 3 month old Noodle. And yes, that’s what I’m looking forward to this year.
Peace out and stuff.
January 3, 2011 § 2 Comments
Hello, sorry I haven’t been around much, intended to blog several times over the past 2 weeks but turns out I couldn’t get around to doing it.
So it’s about half an hour to the 3rd of January, I’m going to do my Christmas/Year-end/NEWYEAR! entry as one mega combo before old news becomes ancient news.
This Christmas I mean, last Christmas, with NTU giving me the best present in form of the latest-exams-I’ve-ever-had-in-my-life, I didn’t really have time to prepare anything for anyone as I do in normal years. So I’m SORRY.
Only a small handful got my shortbread cookies. SO YOU GUYS ARE THE BLESSED ONES.
I was very excited to use my new cookie cutters. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to use a single new one and ended up recycling my old star cutter. The bunny, bear and kitty are new, with the kitty being excitedly purchased from a heavenly shop stocked floor to ceiling with cutters in Lucerne, Switzerland. The other two are from Daiso.
But anyway. Shortbread is a finicky sort of dough (Almost 2 full packs of butter go into that lump of dough you see up there. And very little flour.) that doesn’t hold well with moulds, that’s why they’re most often done as rectangles or squares (ie Walkers shortbread). Last year I used a particular recipe that was very crumbly. This year I tried a new one and it was so moist and sticky that it was difficult for the exact opposite reason. Hence the stars were about the only shape it could vaguely hold together long enough to be baked in.
As you can see I valiantly attempted to get them to be gingerbread shaped as well. The few I managed to peel off the table and pop into the oven mostly ended up with sad fates (amputated, decapitated, etc…) before they could even begin to cool. I think only one person even got a gingy-shortbread this year.
Okay, WordPress has actually amazed me by making everything I typed over the past half hour magically disappear. So I don’t really want to repeat it. But it was a summary of life in 2010.
I shall just move on and say that 2010 was an intense and amazing year of traveling, spending a lot of time talking to God alone in Europe, reflecting on life, what I want, where I want to go, what I want to be, and expanding my mind in many ways. I have met many wonderful people, worked with many lovely ones I never got to work with before, and have had so many milestones that it would be hard to think of the most significant moment I had in 2010.
Most people envy me for having traveled 7 months of my year away, but it has been a period of growth, and the return has been nothing short of challenging. Here as we enter 2011 I’m finally settling BACK to the Singapore life, but with bigger dreams and higher hopes.
It’s going to be my best year yet.
December 22, 2010 § 2 Comments
Okay I’m going to blog about this because I’m very excited about it.
The Gakkenflex is a DIY TRL toy camera that comes with Vol.25 of Otona no kagaku (大人の科學), a Japanese DIY magazine. Sis brought to my attention that Kino was carrying the mag, and with it being 20% off at Christmas now I got it for around $43, which is quite a bit cheaper than buying it online or from ThirtySix (retails at $56 I think).
It comes in this exciting styrofoam box. Doesn’t it make you feel excited just looking at it? It has “potential” and “opportunity” written all over. *gleaming eyes*
Bought it on Friday and had to wait out the weekend and be a good girl till my exams were over before I came home and happily started fiddling with it yesterday. (I think I pretty much made a beeline for it when I came home after dinnering with Walter.)
So I was too engrossed fiddling with the screws and springs and getting the shutter to work and all that I didn’t take pictures of the process. Took more than an hour, but this included taking it apart and putting it back together again because the shutter was SO fast I was almost convinced it wasn’t shuttering at all. The shutter speed is 1/125, apparently. Aperture at f/11, but there’s an aperture ring inside you that can take out if it’s really cloudy.. a bit fiddly to do that though.
Here’s the completed baby! Maybe I’ll go out tomorrow and shoot some if the weather is good.
And you have a really nice proper ‘viewfinder’ as well. It was late at night so I couldn’t really point at anything bright except my ceiling lights.
The gears on the front of the camera also all you to pull your focus as and when necessary. It’s a really great little camera that uses regular 35mm film. Have popped in an expired roll that Dad conjured up (It’s not that old, expired in 2000) and hope I’ll get some interesting shots from this. :]
Will blog about those again when I get them!
But in the meantime, here are some of the nicer shots from my first roll on the Diana F+ I borrowed from Marcius (someone I met in German class with whom I seem to have a lot of common friends with and who was from my JC but I’d never seen in my life). Meant to get myself through another roll but this Gakkenflex is definitely going to distract me from that. (Also 35mm is a lot cheaper to develop than 120 film!)
December 21, 2010 § 2 Comments
The exams have finally exhausted themselves and disappeared from my life (for a whole good year). No more exams till next November! Now that I’ve slept enough and have stopped being a total zombie, I finally have the energy to be excited for the new season ahead (next up: internship!).
So my family had an early Christmas dine-out this year. Traditionally we go for a buffet at a nice hotel every year. We have our favourites – Oscar’s at Conrad, Melt: The World Cafe at Mandarin Oriental, The Line at Shangri-La… but this year Sis booked somewhere we hadn’t been to yet.
We’ve been to Pine Court at Meritus a number of times for birthdays and such (they have excellent dim sum!), but this was our first time trying Triple Three. A couple of hours before we were going to go there, I went to check out the reviews on Hungrygowhere (of course)… and boy were they disappointing! Complaints of bad service and subpar food abounded.
Never underestimate the power of the Internet because Hungrygowhere was the first site that popped up on Google search, and if I had discovered it any earlier, we would’ve canceled our reservation and headed for somewhere else.
Unfortunately, because it was only a couple of hours to dinnertime, Sis and I did try calling up some other hotel restaurants but they were either fully booked or too expensive. (Melt was going for 98++ per pax that night!) So we decided to just stick to Triple Three and test it out for ourselves.
I went with low expectations and a hungry stomach. When we got there, I was pleasantly surprised that I did not encounter any of the bad service reputedly featured on the Hungrygowhere reviews. The extremely smiley and welcoming manager ushered us in, made small talk with us and mentored his staff closely. Sure there were some inexperienced waitresses. We had one from China with very bad English but she tried. Jason had a dirty fork and we got that changed, we asked for warm water but got room temperature water, but these were minimal and nothing to make a hoo-ha about. So my conclusion on the service front: It was nothing much to complain about! Acceptable enough and they were polite and brisk with clearing the tables.
Now we move on to the food.
Of course, I am slightly biased and tend to judge buffets based on how well they do my favourite foods. Aka, seafood (sashimi sashimi sashmi, and other things) and dessert.
For a buffet, they actually don’t leave the sashimi out on a platter for you to take on your own. They have a chef (if you can call him a chef) there to slice the various types of sashimi when you want it (so it means you can’t take as much as you want and you will feel paiseh to go back for seconds because the guy has already seen you before, very smart).
The chef is quite stingy with the pieces, he normally gives about 3 or 4 little slices each and I asked for more because well, I love sashimi. As you can probably tell from his cuts, he’s not very good at this slicing this. I’m not sure whether to give him the benefit of doubt that his knife isn’t sharp enough or that he’s really just not very deft with it, but they were quite badly sliced in general.
Sashimi verdict? Okay lor. Not great. Not bad. Wasabi was the kind that knocks you out and cures your sinuses so I liked it.
Moving on to the crayfish.
This was not bad, but that cheese/cream/calories sauce thing they drowned the meat in was a bit much. Some people like it I guess, I liked it too, but would’ve liked it more if there had been a little less of that cream.
Turkey and roast beef. Okay the thing about Christmas right… what is Christmas without turkey? Turkey was actually the key deciding factor in choosing buffets (because my sister wants turkey).
The turkey and roast beef were nicely done. Turkey was tender. Bad point: no stuffing. Where’s my turkey stuffing? Roast beef was on the medium rare side which I liked.
This is also sliced on the spot for you. Surprise surprise, by the same guy who cuts your sashimi.
Roast duck. The concept of this buffet is they have a lot of stations where people have to prepare things ‘on the spot’ for you. The duck was not bad but I just feel like, I don’t really pay 70 dollars to come to a buffet to eat duck.
Or prawn mee either. Though I must say I liked this prawn mee. It was nice.
They also had very bad chawanmushi.
It was bad, and didn’t taste anything like any chawanmushi I’ve had in my life so I don’t really know how to describe it.
Some of the other stations they had were a stir-fry station, where they had juicy mushrooms and bean sprouts, fish and beef cubes. These were not bad I’d have to say. And they also had an Indian food corner that I must’ve completely ignored.
So my verdict on the mains overall:
Variety – okay.
Quality – okay, some inconsistent. Nothing stood out.
But sometimes if the food isn’t fantastic, dessert makes up for it. But not here.
Always remember that sometimes they look better than they taste.
Of the 3 little cups here. One was mango, which was the only nice one. Strawberry was dull. The last we couldn’t even identify but it definitely didn’t taste good.
Green tea log cake, or they should’ve called it green tea buttercream with a bit of cake. Unidentifiable soury brown cake in the background.. I have no idea what it was supposed to be but it tasted like it had gone bad. The thing is, it probably hasn’t, but whatever they were trying at, it failed (might have been an attempt at some sort of yogurt cake). Even the cute little chocolate thing tasted bad. How can?
Completely fail. Except for the lime ice-cream, because it’s citrus. But of course they don’t make the ice-cream in-house so that doesn’t really count.
So would I recommend this place?
If you’re a dessert queen… definitely not. But overall the food is not bad (not good, remember, just not bad) and apart from the chawanmushi
being the only major turnoff, sorry, I forgot the soba, don’t eat that either, the food is actually quite edible. But if you’re going to pay $68++ for a Christmas buffet, I’d suggest topping up another $10 and going to Oscar’s at Conrad instead. Impeccable food and service there. But if you a a DBS cardholder and want to go for the 1-for-1 promotion (that ends at the end of the year, Mon-Thur only, must book because every night is full), then I guess it’s worth a shot?
Anyway looking forward to more Christmas gatherings now. Have one almost every day till the end of the year! Happy holidays everyone. Enjoy the remainder of December and look forward to an amazing 2011.
December 13, 2010 § 2 Comments
So, this was the accompanying title for my travelogue about the mini Sri Lanka adventure I had with 11 others from WKWSCI earlier in August.
Back then I had 3 choices – (a) to do a short internship in Amsterdam at a design studio I chanced upon, (b) go to Vietnam under the NTU Global Discovery Programme, (c) or apply for Pac N’ Go (Haven’t got over that they really named it this) and take a trip to Sri Lanka.
Troubled over how to make a choice, I talked through the pros and cons with many friends during the short window I had to make my decision. Eventually, (a) didn’t fall through though I know it looked the most attractive of the above options, I couldn’t return to Singapore in time for (b), and with pohtecktoes’s encouragement, we both signed up for (c).
This module was pretty mad. Juggling 7 mods this sem stretched me to my physical limits. I took 25AUs in a bid to clear enough so that I would only have to do one more semester of studies. (Planning to take Year 4 Sem 2 to do some freelance work, intern or set up a business.) I tried to justify that I was taking 2 non-examinable mods (Film Fest and this Lanka one), so once the insanity (and boy was it insane) died down, I would have ample time to study for my remaining 5 mods, 2 of which I SU-ed. Sounds pretty okay right? Okay lah. I wouldn’t recommend it and I wouldn’t do it again.
Sooooooo… well, here are some of my favourite shots from the Lanka trip.
Many of you have asked with much curiosity about this country that we know so little about. The 12 of us who went definitely didn’t know what to think of the place ourselves before we went. But my lowdown is this: I will go back. Someday. Hopefully soon.
If I could describe Sri Lanka in one word, it would be this: Raw.
In more words: Raw, untouched, unspoiled, truthful, honest, and naturally beautiful.
There’s just something about how very underdeveloped the whole country is. They’re trying very hard to become well, what every 3rd world country wants to be, and may in time to come lose it’s flavour like much of Singapore has in the name of steely cold progress.
But for now, while you have your usual money grabbing tour merchants (like in Italy) who try to suck you of as much money as they can because you’re a foreigner, the natural beauty of the country is a joy to any traveler who wants an experience down a road that others seldom care to travel. The people aspect, unfortunately, did put most of us off quite a fair bit. But as a seasoned traveler, you just try to wisely worm out of what you can, and focus on enjoying what you came to experience – the untouched and unspoiled Sri Lanka.
It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you fancy yourself a bit of a wanderer who doesn’t mind roughing it out a little bit, then yes. I would recommend the Sri Lanka experience.
Also, I think more than half of the shots were taken while on a moving vehicle, primary our mini bus. I must warn you of this if you ever decide to go to Sri Lanka. The distances between the places may seem few in kilometres by our standards, but by the standards of Sri Lankan roads, you’re normally going at 40–60km/h MAX. There isn’t much traffic to speak of, so it’s not because there are loads of vehicles, but because of the road conditions and how you share the road [which is a dirt road, not a tar road] with tuk tuks that will worm their way into every space they can fit their vehicle into, cows, dogs, cows, cows, and the ‘public buses’ that travel at 150km/h and honk like crazy when they’re approaching.
So. Photos! (Lots of them in this post!)
Okay. That’s all for now. Now to find another excuse not to study… hey look, it’s about bed time. Goodnight world.
December 11, 2010 § Leave a Comment
So I’ve been home for almost half a year now.
Some friends have said I’ve changed since I came back, especially those who’ve been attempting to study with me for this semester’s finals. I’m more ‘slack’ (or distracted, in a way), less intense about studying, happier, but definitely slacker.
Is this really a ‘return from Europe’ syndrome? Not sure how the rest are faring, but half a year in Switzerland and traveling across more than 20 cities in Europe has taught me more about life than the close-minded, narrow-sighted tunnel vision rat race that we run, constantly and daily, as a Singaporean youth facing Singaporean pressures.
I have learned to relax. To enjoy time. To enjoy people. To have a clearer understanding of the ‘eternal perspective’.
I have been reminded to treasure the people God has blessed me with, to put people above results. To put human beings before goals. To value a person above perfection in their work. To let go of things I cannot control.
I have learned to treasure the gift of time. The gift of time to spend with family, loved ones and treasured friends. To appreciate the fact that at the end of the day, my grades are not going to save me, they are not going to make me happy, the endless chase for perfection can only satisfy for so long, and that my life would be meaningless and worthless if I had no one to come home to, and no friends I can call to share my happiest and crappiest moments with.
I don’t want to wait till I lose somebody, someone gets a terminal disease, or face a near-death experience to realize that it’s time to say ‘I love you’, ‘Thank you’, and ‘I’m glad to call you my friend’ to the people who matter.
So, don’t forget to tell the people who matter to you that you love them. Love them now, not tomorrow, not when the exams are over, not when you have the time, not when they become perfect or do the right thing, not when you can finally prepare something grandiose. But love them simply, and love them fully, and love them now.
This post is titled Missing Europe. So here are some other photos from my travels, some from later trips than the last Europe photo post which was of us in Spain. If any of the juniors going to Europe are reading this, please, get excited, travel lots and don’t just be caught up in the photos, but be caught up in the experience.
June 8, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Done with my first exam in Switzerland. My head hurts so much from the lack of academic stimulation over the past few months… I say academic and not intellectual stimulation, because there is a big chasm between two. Intellectual stimulation is enjoyable. Academic is largely regurgitation, even here. 3 more papers to go, one this Friday and 2 more in the last week of June after I come back from Barcelona (yes I’m off to Barca next Monday, envy me).
Okay… I have to drop the word ‘design’ from this entry because it’s finally about my favourite topic and the main staple of this blog before I came to Switzerland… FOOD glorious FOOD.
I finally caved in to my need to eat REAL Chinese food after 4 months (fried rice and eating instant noodles doesn’t count). So Walts and I scouted out some good Chinese food while we were in Rotterdam.
The Netherlands in general has loads of food of many diverse origins because of it’s colonial history. Loads of Indonesian, Thai, and of course, Chinese food everywhere.
Walts was buying a Crumpler camera bag so we asked the guy where we could get some authentic Chinese food, cause we’d been away from home for months and really wanted The Real Deal. He directed us a couple of streets down to the Chinatown-ish area where there were loads of Asian eateries… and his recommended place, which was famous among the local Dutch and Chinese populations alike: De Lange Muur.
It was really like a Hong Kong 餐厅; very very busy, Canto speaking staff, very loud conversations and a lot of Chinese people… Which I didn’t really mind, for once. We did hesitate quite a bit before going in though, because Asian food in Europe is RIDICULOUSLY expensive even with the good exchange rate at the moment. (When you have to fork out 12 euros for a plate of kang kong, you definitely do a double take.)
But our Chinese taste buds won the argument, and after wandering down the street and realizing prices weren’t going to get any cheaper, we decided that if we were going to blow a lot of money eating Asian food, we were better off spending it on the good stuff.
Walts examining the menu cause Liz can’t read it. They automatically gave us the Chinese text menu because we were Asian. The Dutchies get a picture book version with pictures of the various dishes and descriptions in Dutch. Lol.
Har Gao! Siew Mai! I miss dim sum DEARLY. I already told Jem Oh that when I return to Singapore I demand another dim sum & durian outing to Geylang ASAP. I think one of it was €3.80 and the other €4.20. And the money I had with me was changed at around 1.85, so go figure how much in SGD that cost.
Walt and I going trigger happy and getting weird stares. That stupid boy started nose bleeding as we were queuing up to get a seat. Then when we started eating he started bleeding even more. There was so much blood everywhere I think only the sheer fact of what food was in front of me stopped me from losing my appetite. I don’t know why all these things always happen to him when I’m eating with him. I still vividly remember the day he fainted in front of me after dinner at Plaza Sing sometime in December 2009.
Beef kuay teow. Not the way we do it in Singapore, but this was still omgood. The ‘chup’ was very nice. Plus all the chili (the kind that’s drowning in chili oil). Heaven. This was €10. Ha. Yes. Take that. For beef kuay teow! But it’s not as ridiculous as the €15 laksa we saw in Amsterdam a few days later.
Soooo.. the food was so awesomely satisfying, that even though we were spending an average of SGD$20 on food we could get at a third of the price back home, we went back there again the next evening.
Mixed veggies. This cost €13.50, I kid you not. But the portion was gianormous! In fact the portion of all the food there was gianormous. And this came with a big pot of rice that Walts had to finish most of because we also ordered duck chao mian.
Their portions are HUGE. Only the Chinese can finish this much food. It was funny to observe how all the Chinese patrons really wolfed everything down or at least tar pao-ed their leftovers, and all the Dutchies would be stuck at their tables having eaten less than half of the food, then throw everything else away. Walts and I had to painfully watch copious amounts of glorious Chinese food being swept off the table by waiters.
Second night’s bill was higher than the first. And I was stuffed up to my nostrils. But boy was it a very happy two evenings of indulgences. Much better than the Thai restaurant we ended up in on our first night in Amsterdam, where Walts ordered Thai Green Curry that was 99% coconut milk. And the €5 tom yam soup that I shared with him that was about the size of two Chinese tea cups. Pfft.
And this area is just on the next street from the Red Light District, which wasn’t all that interesting the day we went. (Our hostel, which is a Christian hostel, was funnily in between these two streets.) Someone told me that the prostitutes on display were as hot as models, but that day I only saw a few girls on display and they were either flabby or saggy, so no further comments about the Red Light District if any of you want to ask me ‘So How Was Amsterdam’s Famous RLD??’. And if you want to ask me whether I smoked pot, the obvious answer is: No.
Anyway I digress. Going back to food, Walts and I of course also had to try the famous Vlaamse Frites… supposedly the Dutchies eat it with heaps of mayo, but I don’t like mayo. So we tried this one with their definition of ‘curry sauce’.
From another stall in Amsterdam. This one was supposed ‘sambal olek’. The guy warned us when we ordered it that was ‘very spicy’. We gamely grinned and told him we could handle it and asked for more. He originally only gave me a tiny dollop the size of a 50 cent coin. There was nothing I have yet tried in Europe that can compare to the way we Singaporeans eat spice.
Our verdict? Salty. I’m quite convinced the Dutch like everything salty. And it was barely spicy and only very vaguely ‘sambal olek’. But the fries were nice. These are about the cheapest eats you can get off the streets, averaging €2 onwards.
I also had a really good muffin. €2.50 from a sandwich place. One thing I must say about the Dutch is that they make DAMN GOOD sandwiches. Which makes Lizzy happy because Lizzy likes sandwiches. And it also made her very depressed the first day she re-entered Switzerland and tried to buy sandwiches off the supermarket shelf, which were pathetic slices of bread with miserable single slices of cheese or ham for more than 4CHF.
But oh well. Muffins.
And finally, on my last day in Amsterdam I tried something from Burger Meester. I first read about it on GoAmsterdam while researching before my trip but never really thought about making a point to find the place. But it turned out that they had a few branches and there was one on the way to the Dutch Resistance Museum and opposite the Artis Zoo. (I was heading for the Museum, not the Zoo, though I would like to go there if I get to go back to Amsterdam.)
So after my 4 hours in the not-particularly-large museum (which I thoroughly enjoyed. One of the perks of traveling alone is that I can spend as long as I want gazing at museum exhibits.), I decided to try this famed burger. I ordered a mini duck burger for €3.50.
And boy was it made for messy eating! The bun was so soft it was breaking apart because of all the meat juices and sauces. The sauce, cheese and meat was spilling out all over because the fillings were bigger than the bun. But it was a really enjoyable little burger while it lasted. The duck was lightly seared and slightly undercooked, which I liked anyhow since I’m a medium-rare sort. Yums.
And that’s almost the end of this little Dutch holiday series, probably one more entry to wrap up my day spent in the Red Cross Museum in Geneva and to talk about all the stuff I got on this trip. This was really the most ‘holiday’ trip for me so far. No rushing around cheonging museums and trying to get 1000 done in one day like we did in Italy. Very relaxing, very enjoyable, and I spent most of my money enjoying food, museums, buying books and postcards.
Think I’m finally settling into the Ways of Chill as they do it here. Europeans really know how to relax and enjoy life. My first couple of months in Switzerland I was permanently restless and edgy because a workaholic like me really couldn’t understand the concept of having NOTHING to do. But I’m finally starting to learn how to relax. :] Shall enjoy the remaining months of it before it’s back to crazy-can’t-stop-working Singapore again.
Okay. Time to study for one more paper on Friday. Then off to Barcelona on Monday!
June 4, 2010 § 1 Comment
So we move on to Day 2 of the Dutch holiday. You can read about Day 1 here.
Day 2 in Amsterdam was not about design. It was about attempting suicide by the sheer act of being an incompetent cyclist attempting to navigate the roads of Amsterdam.
Funky bike in Amsterdam. No they don’t all look like this.
This is Mike’s Bike, where I went for the ride of my life. I have decided that I’m never riding on the road again for a long, long time to come. Especially not in Amsterdam. The main reason I’d gone was because I met some nice Aussie girls in my hostel room doing a major backpacking trip in Europe, and they were going for this tour. I wouldn’t have considered it otherwise.
Nice Aussies. Nikki and Jade.
This is Pete (I think). He was our guide for the tour and here are some of the rest of the 11 confident people who weren’t as godawful at pedaling a bicycle as I was. The guy with the striped adidas jacket I pity the most, because he was asked to be the last rider. And you know what that means with a joker like me having to ride in front of him and his wife. I apologized profusely to him at the end and while he said it was alright, his eyes totally said ‘I’m glad you realize how terrible a cyclist you are’.
I don’t have a great deal of pictures of the LOVELY Dutch landscape we cycled through because I was more focused on staying alive and not causing unnecessary accidents. Just to emphasize how bad I was on the road, 5 minutes into the tour Pete came up to me and asked me if I could cycle faster, because he needed to get back by 3pm for his next tour.
I was pretty much praying in tongues during the entire time we were riding in the city. The country-scape was alright because there wasn’t much traffic and I just had to focus on not cycling into any of the rest of the group. The city bits were awful. I had so many near misses with other bikes and cars and I got sworn at so many times in a language I (fortunately) don’t undersand.
Here’s me looking terribly relieved to have survived the first part and safely end up in the ‘countryside’.
And a group shot at a touristy windmill (that thing is really just there for touristic purposes) in the bleak and fickle Dutch weather that goes from freezing cold wind/rain to sunshine any time it wants.
Passed many lovely houses on the way, none of which I have photographic evidence of.
Okay except maybe this when we stopped briefly for Pete to talk. Then we visited a cheese factory owned by a very cheekopek man who kept targeting me.
Passing around the cheese… aka demonstrating the power of this particular cheese shredder he was selling in his touristic little shop.
Said cheekopek in question demanding a photo halfway through his presentation.
In addition to cheese he also had a clog machine to make those famous Dutch wooden clogs.
And some of the lovely cheese that I really enjoyed but wasn’t about to fork out 8 euros for. Mmm. But Dutch farmer cheese (that is only produced and sold locally) is really awesome.
Here’s my bike (green!).
And I had to take a picture with Pete who congratulated me for coming back alive and having not killed myself or anyone else with my embarrassing cycling skills by giving me.. believe it or not, a Mike’s Bike condom (why do they even have these???).
I politely told him I didn’t need it but took it as a souvenir anyway. And that pretty much summed up my second day in Amsterdam, which I finished off with a generous kebab and some Dutch snacks before heading to Rotterdam for the night.
Speaking of Dutch snacks, I really used to hate marzipan. But the Dutch sell these RIDICULOUSLY sweet marzipan bars that were epic sugar-high inducing. It was like. Chocolate covered marzipan wrapped around a squishy marshmallow center. More effective than drinking coffee, I would think. I bought it by accident from Hema (sort of like the Dutch version of Marks&Spencer, do check out their website, it’s hilarious. Try to click on stuff) when I landed in Schiphol airport. Was really hungry and the packaging looked normal enough. Orangey marzipan half dipped in chocolate looked to me like harmless chocolate covered mini bread buns. But the first bite shot right through my veins and slammed my head really hard. My pupils probably dilated the moment the marshmallow exploded in my mouth and the sensation of utter, complete, indescribable sweetness sent warning signals from my mouth right to my toes. Yes, in short, it was damn sweet can? To my own incomprehension I actually liked it. Or maybe I was really THAT hungry.
Okay. End of entry for now, more on the conference later tonight or tomorrow. I have to study now.