Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Amsterdam 27-29 February 08

Taking opportunity of the zero kroner special on flights, Jiamin, Carol, Jinjoo and I decided to zoom off to the Netherlands and Belgium...managing to skip zero classes - hurrah! Our flight was delayed for 2 hours, so instead of reaching Amsterdam at 8pm, we got in at about 10pm...with no dinner! :(

Jinjoo and I - first meal in Amsterdam at her friends hostel room
This girl from China in the next room kindly gave us her stash of instant noodles...to us poor hungry Copenhageners! :p

Getting around Amsterdam with our Macbikes!

Cycling along
Amstel River

The boy who refused to pose for the camera

The Amsterdammers are really sweet.

Whenever we opened our map, there never fails to be a local who comes up to us to offer us their help. We enjoyed chatting with 2 of them - one of them being a mother who carrying her toddler behind her. Busy as she was carrying all her things, she was really kind to help us! You wouldn't find this kind of pro-active pleasantry towards tourists were you in Singapore or Copenhagen!

Traffic in Amsterdam is QUITE crazy. I didn't realise how organised Copenhagen road and motor traffic was until I was cycling in Amsterdam! The narrow cycling path sometimes goes 2-way, and there are no traffic lights for bicycles, so it gets confusing at times...and the motorist are out to knock you over :/

'Floating' houses along the canal...
The one at the bottom even has a gate, just for that boardwalk! :p

More cycling!

Tempgina Amsterdam!
(no idea what that means)

Fun with musical steps

Met a cutie cat along the way...

I love these pictures...so I'm not bothering to shrink them!

After half a day of trying a self-cycling tour (but mostly getting lost :p), we met Isaac at the Van Gogh museum. It wasn't too bad...couldn't take any pictures inside, so these are the replicas on the outside of the building.

I realise I'm not a big fan of impressionist art! heh...look like random colours to me. I prefer detailed fine paintings...so Van Gogh, as talented as you may be, I prefer Ruben's! :p

At the market - ooh had so much to see...and eat! :p

And Jinjoo going to stick her fingers up the animal's nose hehe.
(The animal's been made into a purse...eww.)

Afterwhich we stopped by a restaurant/cafe to eat somemore! hehe.

Isaac eats his cheese & bacon with a special maple syrup...ugh. As strange as that sounds - most of them loved it!

Signs of spring just outside the restaurant

One of the many canals in Amsterdam at night
(sorry it's so blur :/)

One of Amsterdam's famous shops that specialize in psychoactive substances...i.e. drugs.
Liberal Netherlands!

This is my only picture taken from the notorious red light district.
(hey I thought it was cute!)
We figured we shouldn't all be taking out our cameras and gawking. So our appointed professional photographer's pictures can be found here.

Amsterdam was a real eye-opener for me, in terms of how liberal (and arguably decadent) it really is. (sidenote to vasu: you might love this place) Realised a few things:

My parents have been to Amsterdam before...and my dad a few more times before that. It suddenly struck me as we weaved in and out of the souvenir shops (as Carol was on her magnet-hunt :p) that those popular touristy porcelain wind-mills created a wave of nostalgia within me. And I realised why when I spoke to my parents when I came back to Copenhagen...that they bought one of those things and have been on display in my home ever since I can remember. Strangely made me think of home :)

Those unfamiliar with Amsterdam's famed drug policy can read about it here. So basically, abusing drugs is one of the tourist highlights here...it's absolutely and completely legal. Sure, that's cool. BUT something cooler is that Uniquely Singapore is the only country (to my current limited knowledge) that has laws that extend beyond her physical territorial borders to actually hold Singaporeans liable for drug abuse...anywhere in the world. How cool is Singapore :p (thanks waddles for the tip)

Consumption of drug outside Singapore by citizen or permanent resident
8A. —(1) Section 8 (B) shall have effect in relation to a person who is a citizen or a permanent resident of Singapore outside as well as within Singapore where he is found as a result of urine tests conducted under section 31 (4) (B) to have smoked, administered to himself or otherwise consumed a controlled drug or a specified

Where an offence under section 8 ( b )is committed by a person referred to in subsection (1) in any place outside Singapore, he may be dealt with as if that offence had been committed within Singapore.

The red light district was...interesting, to put it mildly. It was incredible, because the method is new to the conservative Asian culture/mind. (oh go ahead and call me a prude waddles I don't care) Just to help you picture it, it's basically window-shopping...except you buy women. The prostitutes each book a room that comes with a window space, and just enough space for a chair and a bed. They stand at the window to try to invite business. Interested customers go up and try and bargain through the window, and when a deal is struck he steps in and the curtains are closed. So if you see pictures of closed curtains in the link, you know they are in business. Why this can never work in Asia - come on, a guy steps in and out in full of other tourists, locals and tons of other people just strolling around. Asians still have their face to protect. One amusing thing is that the rooms work like residential property...the nearer you are to the main red light district street, the more expensive it is. And the further into the narrow little streets you venture into, you can see the taste in women vary a lot...different shapes, sizes and...uhh...strange outfits. A little scary and intimidating. Isaac has the opinion that it's better this way - a controlled district rather than outlawed, and out of control.

Guess who we bumped into on our second day! Our dear OG mate and Cedarpoint colleague Esmond haha...and together with another exchange Singaporean, Daphne.

WHAT A SMALL WORLD. We were happily cycling along on our red citybikes when we heard someone shout (in a VERY Singaporean voice mind you), "CAROL!" Like those hokkien-scolding-uncles-tone. Nice to meet Singaporeans around the world...shows you how small it really is.

In front of dam square, historical centre of Amsterdam.

oops sorry I kinda ruined the picture whilst in the process of experimenting...but was trying to add in the 2 funny buggers that were standing there :p

Anne Frank Huis (Anne Frank's House)

The place of hiding was on the 1st floor in the picture on the right. (European 1st floor = our 2nd) We didn't go in because of the Incredibly long queue that snaked all the way round the block. It would have been nice to see the original diary...but owells.

During the WWII many Amsterdammers sheltered Jews at a high risk to themselves and their families and those that were discovered were also sent to the concentration camps. More than 103,000 to 105,000 Jews were deported from the Netherlands to concentration camps, of whom perhaps the most famous was young German girl, Anne Frank.

In front of the Rijksmuseum

This HUGE museum houses a large collection of art from the Dutch Golden Age. It was undergoing restoration when we were there, so only one wing was open...but we were still occupied for quite some time! I really enjoyed it, as the paintings were so refined, stark and beautiful...and also because it also told a little bit about Dutch history, during the time it flourished in the arts.

Spring is coming...no?

Ans: We were severely fooled into believing so :p (as you will see later on in my Eastern Europe photos)

The floating flower market (mostly tulips) along the canal...so pretty!!

Farewell to our great host and ambassador to Amsterdam ;) (with his special maple syrup)

Has it been 2 years on since our USA escapade? Gosh.

Our stash after our visit to Amsterdam Chinatown! Sooo much better than ours...some of the sauces are like 1 euro! An Asian is not an Asian without his Asian food.

Funny bikes that some young punks were using for stunts

Half a car!

The central station where we were waiting for our train to Leuven, Belgium.


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