I am writing this from Barry Hotel in Brussels, Belgium at Place Anneesens which happened to be the place that Kakak took her family when they toured Europe prior coming back to Malaysia from Leeds. You guys can check the place at the website (REFER to http://www.hotelbarry.com/). This European tour is initially meant for my sister’s graduation but of course along the way, why not we do a bit of tour around neighbouring European countries, no? Well, my sister already travelled to these places so it is more of to cater to my own ambition. I could vouch even for a simple budget traveler like us, a rough cost for a Malaysian to venture out circa Europe shall tantamount to RM7000-RM8000 per person inclusive the transportation, the lodgings as well as the sustenance.
The iconic letter at Schipol International Airport; after 14 hours on the air. Alhamdulillah.
We took the Emirates from KLIA on 7th July (The second day of Eid 2016) and had 1 hour and a half transit at Dubai and resumed flying to The Netherlands. It took roughly 14 hours from Malaysia to Schiphol International Airport. Now, the first adventure came knocking our door when my backpack was non-existence (Kakak got all her luggage!) at the baggage / luggage belt counter! When we checked with the airport management, we were told that my backpack was still stranded at Dubai! Gosh! Really?! I was a bit petrified but Kakak told me to relax as it happened all the time during transit. We were told that the Emirates would deliver right to our lodging’s door on the next day; and to compensate the technical glitches, we were given two stationery kits and pyjamas! Bless in disguise, I say!
Our first lodging at The Ibis Hotel Badhoevedorp. Our room faced the woods. Out of the woods, anyone?
Our first lodging was at The Ibis Hotel Badhoevedorp which cost 62 Euro per night (REFER to the website at http://www.ibis.com/gb/hotel-0649-ibis-schiphol-amsterdam-airport/index.shtml). It was a comfortable place for us to rest our sinews and limbs from the long journey across the globe.
The National Monument at Dam Square. Seemed quite dilapidated and deserted.
This is The Royal Palace or Koninklij Paleis Amsterdam. According to Wikipedia, a lot of historical events took place here but I am not sure why it seemed so deserted and dilapidated when we visited. Probably under renovation? But being historical fan, I love this Renaissance behemoth!
On the next day, 8th July 2016; we toured around Amsterdam. Kakak brought me to Dam Square. Apparently it is one of the iconic place of interest to visit in Amsterdam. Perhaps for ordinary people, it was a mundane place with old buildings but as a historical freak, I just love the architecture and the vast square at the middle of it – an eminent reflection of rich historical tapestry of the nation! You guys can check the Wikipedia if you are curious to have light reading on it (REFER to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dam_Square).
The Albert Cuyp Market. You can get your things at reasonable bargained price.
After that, Kakak brought me (she is an expert as this was her second time!) to the Albert Cuyp Market (You guys can check the website at http://albertcuyp-markt.amsterdam/)! It is more or less like our uptown or Night Bazars but the fruits sold are always fresh. You could find a lot of exotic things there and that is always an enchanting part of the western flea market – much like Sydney’s Paddy Market & Melbourne’s Victoria Market.
The wind blew so vigorously. Well, understandable as Zanns Schans is a windy place for the windmills! It is so peaceful and very European village. You know, Europeans are so proud with their heritage and ‘kampung life’. Why not us? I don’t understand Malaysians who look down at ‘kampung’ lifestyles but hail the Western rustic life. Get yourself some self-identity, please! LOL!
Kakak loves cheese. I, on the other hand, not a fan. I find them stinky. Can you see the cashier wears the traditional Dutch Lady costume; as per drawn on the milk can of the brand? Malaysians should understand my points! We practically grew up drinking the dairy milk!
We then headed straight to Amsterdam Centraal. Initially, Kakak was planning to visit Giethoorn which is dubbed as the “Venice of Netherlands” as there are no roads linking the houses in the village. Nevertheless, it would take us approximately 3 hours from Amsterdam and we also have to be thrifty for the rest of our European trip. Plan B; we decided to go for Zaans Museum and Zaans Schans – a neighbourhood which houses several gigantic windmills and replicas of Old Dutch farm barns and countryside villages. We took the 391 bus and it took us around one hour from Centraal Amsterdam. I have to say that it was certainly a worthwhile experience looking at all the windmills and the Dutch farm lives! A visit to Netherlands won’t be completed if you didn’t visit this (I guess what Kakak said was right!).
Relaxation. The wind was so vicious but I love the ambiance. I am happy that I gave myself this trip as a gift for being so hardworking for the past 2 years studying Master’s Degree and nailing CGPA 3.938! It is an achievement for myself.
As a Science teacher, I have been teaching my pupils about how wind could generate energy from the windmill by rotating the blades of fan and eventually stimulate the turbin and empowering electricity. It is basic syllabus for the Malaysian Year 5 pupils. But now when I saw the windmills myself, I have to say I was amazed. Well, too bad I am not teaching Science anymore. It has been two years now since I first started to be roped in as full-fledged Malaysian English Language teacher. Oh, well.
Majestic windmills. Now I can tell my pupils about the experience I have about windmills; if I were to teach Science in the upcoming years (who know?) on the energy transformation : from wind energy to electricity. Not simply from the textbook but I could vouch that from my own eyes! Splendid!
Apart from the windmills, we also saw various cheeses sold (Dutch are very proud with their cheese. Unfortunately, I ain’t an aficionado. My sister loves cheese, though!) and you could see the workers donned the classic Dutch lady traditional costume (remember the Dutch lady milk brand? Elderly Malaysians would know that!). Zaans Schans was definitely a windy place – I guess that was the reason why the windmills were erected there. It was pure relaxation and therapeutic – except for this one odd encounter with a ‘Kiasu’ Chinese family which I initially suspected from Mainland China but then I heard them speaking Cantonese; so probably Hongkese. They were practically conquering and took ages to snap their family picture at the gigantic klomp! Finally, when the father who at least had the sensibility seeing his wife and the grandmother unabashedly oblivious to our presence despite we were practically STANDING queuing for our turn like status there; they finally recoiled. My, my! Nevertheless on whole, Zaans Schans was awesome!
The annoying Chinese family – Hongkese perhaps, as they spoke Cantonese though their antics resembled the notorious Mainland Chinese! They didn’t care about us waiting for the turn and did their own various poses until the father advised them to retreat. No offense to all my good friends from China (from my Master’s Degree) who were great but this family? A real burn-in-the-ass.
Klopen, the traditional wooden clogs which has serve as the preserved identity of the Dutch. I like discovering new information of cultures when I visit the countries – not simply just taking photographs without an ounce of knowledge!
Some of the village house replica at Zaans Schans. Ethereal.
Once we arrived back Centraal Amsterdam, we collected our luggage at the Drop-and-Go counter (which cost us 5 Euro for each luggage) and then wandered around the town for food. We entered this one Turkish restaurant (naturally as it has Halal on it) and feasted on the wrapped doner and fish-and-chips. After getting our stomachs full, we walked to our next lodging which was a boat house called Vita Nova at Oosterdork; just a walking distance from Centraal Amsterdam and besides the NEMO Science Museum. The owner was a man called Roy. Basically, the room was extra pretty small and quite costly BUT much cheaper in comparison to other lodgings in Amsterdam (what you expect, it is the capital city of Netherlands!). To best sum up the idea; imagine you are on Titanic and you resided on the Jack Dawson’s part of the cabin – NOT the lavish one resided by Rose de Witt Bukater! Haha! On top of that, we the toilets are shared – two combo toilets (bath and poo) and two shower rooms. Nevertheless, I enjoyed that new experience. Traveling is all about immersing yourself with new adventure, no? And I really applaud my sister for having such a great idea. She could open a touring agency one day!
The house boat Vita Nova at Oosterdork, our second lodging. Kudos to Kakak for being so creative and cheapskate (Haha!) in choosing accommodation for us. Oh, she can open a traveling agency for Halal-craving Malaysian Moslems! (,”)
From the dining room and also the aisle of cabins. We felt like Jack Dawson in Titanic as the room was extremely small but it was great experience! I won’t trade the experience for anything else! Worthy for backpackers!
That night, we had our second mishap. My sister told me someone hacked her Instagram relentlessly and distributed lecherous pictures! She was navigating her Instagram when suddenly, she was abruptly logged out from the account but when she tried to re-enter the password, Instagram sent notice stating that someone from America was attempting to sabotage her account. After few attempts, she initially was able to retrieve the account BUT the hacker was relentless and kept hacking her account and in the end, somehow took over the account. My sister already reported to the Instagram management and even took picture for proof (made compulsory by them) but until this moment, proved to no avail. In the end, she had to make a new account. It was a sentimental page for her as she was an avid user of Instagram and much of her Leeds’ experiences were saved in that old Instagram account. This hacking incident was a lesson for us. It is likely to occur because of the WIFI. When we use WIFI, it is not a guaranteed secure line. So y’all can take note of this incident.
The Anne Frank’s House. I felt excited to be there as I read her diary last year. Hey, I don’t know why my boobs are big. Perhaps mens’ boobs?? But seriously! Darn. Hahaha! Oh, well. (,”)
So sad. When it comes to humanity, why must we segregate between Moslems; Jewish; Caucasians or Asians? Racism and xenophobia remain the key barriers in human’s civilization. Sigh.
On the third day, 9th July 2016; we checked out around 9.30 a.m. and then put our luggage at the Drop-And-Go counter. Since I read Anne Frank’s diary last year (REFER to https://undomiel84.wordpress.com/2015/08/11/is-being-a-jewish-a-crime-fromthe-eyes-of-a-holocaust-victim-the-diary-of-a-young-girl-by-anne-frank-1929-1945/), I was agitated and kept repeating to my sister that I just wanted to take picture outside the facade as I was already aware of the long queue and of course, had to exercise thriftiness of my Euros! Haha! It was surreal to finally able to be at the historical place where Anne Frank and her family hided from the Nazi for two years but unfortunately eventually discovered by the Nazis. I could imagine how her family assistants helped to smuggle in the foods for the Franks and how Anne and her family had to be cautious not to make any such visible noises in the house. To y’all who want to be more aware with the global culture, do read the book. It teaches you the wrath of wars to humanity, and most importantly to the heart of a soul.
The Rijkmuseum. What an artsy and Renaissance experience I had; admiring the paintings of Van Gogh albeit merely motives imprinted on the merchandise! Haha!
After that, we went to the front side of Rijksmuseum (since we already bought the one-hour tram ticket!). We didn’t enter; just hanged around at the shop in front of it where merchandises inspired by Van Gogh’s paintings were sold. You could see the famous arts such as :-
- The Milkmaid;
- The Potato Eaters;
- Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette;
-are used as motives in the paintings. Kakak brought for herself a mobile phone cover.
Netherlands is made of dams to curb it from flood; that is why you can see a lot of water canals and buildings along the bank. Fascinating how God gave men the idea, isn’t it?
Amsterdam Centraal. Something like our KL Sentral. Only that the building is very classic and antiquated.
We managed to complete our two location of tourist spots within 1 hour! We arrived at Amsterdam Centraal and we took our Intercity train to Brussels. If you buy online 3 days prior to the day you push off, you will get the ticket for 19 Euro per person. But since we bought it last minute, the ticket was priced at 48 Euro! Imagine the price hiking! Nevertheless, all was well in Amsterdam.
A view at Oosterdork. It felt as if you were in the classic English fairytale – Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid”. I remembered Mak bought me the Read-It-Yourself book which depicted illustrations of churches and convent girls walking from English town when they saw the prince drifted ashore after Little Mermaid saved him. That English feeling was eminent when I was looking at this panorama. I couldn’t believe that I had the chance to actually be in that ambiance – as depicted in my childhood storybook!
I love Amsterdam. I feel I will come back again. I love the multiracial ambiance there and the relaxing feel. Apart from that, I found that most of our interactions with the Dutch are positive. They are very polite and willing to entertain our inquiries. Other than that, most of the Dutch could speak fluent English and that really marvels me the most! I love Amsterdam! Alright, done for the first country; wait for the entry on Brussel, Belgium!
Amsterdam, I will probably come back again! (,”)