16 5 / 2013
once i had my hands on the mumford and sons berlin concert ticket (after an intense bidding war that lasted 48 hours, spanning 2 exam papers), i knew that i was up for the craziest weekend of my life.
carpooling (which is basically a glorified term for hitch-hiking) across germany (rotterdam-hamburg-berlin) because it was the only way i could afford to travel last minute on an easter weekend without incurring ridiculous costs - great conversations over the 6-hour drive from rotterdam to harburg.
sending out couchsurfing requests and only getting accepted en route to Hamburg, getting dropped off at some train station at in the outskirts after sunset and not knowing how to get to the city centre nor a single word of german. asking strangers for directions in english, getting replies in german, and settling for hand gestures and a lot of nodding. and how comforting it was to see the city lights of the hauptbahnhof station from the train, the warmth of civilisation in the midst of an extended winter.
buying two croissants for the price of one (it was near closing time) - a good deal that masked the irony that my first meal in germany would be french pastries. failing to figure out the metro system after 5 mins of staring at the maps, strolling in the dark along the suburbs, the relief upon meeting my cs hosts that they were not 50 year-old creeps.
tagging along with them to go for a dinner party that their NZ’s friends’ place, after party at a local club/pub place. drinking fritz-coke, leaving earlier than everyone else in the club (at 4.30am), taking my very first photobooth pictures (SUCCESS), pizza for supper/breakfast, watching the sunrise and going to bed when the sun was up.
and that was only day one.
31 3 / 2013
Too many things to remember/write about the past 3 days, which started as a crazy idea to hitchhike from Rotterdam to Berlin (stopping by hamburg) for a Mumford and sons concert. Will come back to this.
Went to my (first!) couchsurfing host’s parents place yesterday evening to watch the hamburg-Munich soccer match. It was the neighborhood where they grew up in, and also the most beautiful house I ever stepped into. To top off the night that I thought couldn’t get any more interesting, I had conversations with their grandpa, an 83-year old man with the vigor and spirits of a 55year old. Talked about Singapore in the 40s, London in 51-52 (where he lived, dangerously, as a German in London at that time), amongst an impressive array of topics. His voice booms when he asks a question, in impeccable English, his laughter fills the room and cannot be more genuine. His good humor and vast knowledge is balanced with displays of affection for his wife when he talks about bringing her to a trip around Asia in the 80s, wanting to bring her to London, and when his granddaughters reveal to me later in the car, that he buys groceries for them on a weekly basis, local produce they cannot obtain in the supermarkets in the city they live in like freshly cut salami(tastes sooo good).
09 2 / 2013
I remember how the stereo in our car played “Mountain Sound” both times we approached a waterfall - definitely some Icelandic voodoo at work there. The sensation of the car swaying slightly from the crazy winds threatening to veer us off the road, the lashing rain against the windscreen as we drove through the pitch black, guided only by headlights and road reflectors. The thrill/fear knowing that you are surrounded by nothing but the bleak horizontal landscapes in a ~10km radius, and the company of 2 screaming friends with voices fighting against the music and the rain.
Leaning against the wind at our first pit stop, right after it scooped up the bag of Maltesers on the dash and hurled it right out of the car (5 second rule applies). How we experienced rain, hail, snow, clear skies and hailing winds (in that order) within 6 minutes of driving along a straight road. Running up a hill a la Glosoli and having the pounding of the drums in your head as the wind howled in your face.
And how every few minutes there was a temptation to drift towards the road shoulder and stop in the middle of the highway to take pictures, to feel the wind and the rain on your face, to take it all in. There is a strange thrill in being on the road in this unfamiliar wilderness, and an experience unlike any other.
31 1 / 2013
Almost a month since I left Singapore - I’ve just been having an awesome time in this turbulence of sun, snow, hail, fog, rain and wind (oh the wind). Europe has been amazing thus far: the sights, the strange weather, the people, the cacophony of languages in a place where “American” is refreshingly not the default tongue.
Lessons finally started this week: don’t seem as easy as I’ve been led to believe. Also just moved into my new apartment an hour ago (after lugging what seemed to be twice my body weight and walking to and from the tram) and am absolutely in love with it. Staying in a hostel would’ve been nice as well, but I’m so glad I opted for an apartment instead - plus my room’s at the top floor, so I got the slanted roof ceilings which I have always wanted!
Okay this is a very frivolous update but I’m sitting in my acceptably clean room now with the heater on and feeling slightly chilly in my wifebeaters after my shower, and am looking forward to school tmr, and barcelona for the weekend - it hardly gets better than this.
31 1 / 2013
(This is the thing about recording your experiences: you need to do it at that very instant, when your heart hasn’t stopped thumping from excitement and while the emotion still lingers. It might be the effect of twitter/instagram, but I remember being more eloquent than this, despite the fact that whatever I wanted to write about happened days, weeks ago. This whole obsession about getting whatever you wanted to say into 140chars or less and have it published immediately - I’m just too used to that mode of social interaction. And so this is the attempt to break away from that, at least a little bit, anecdote by anecdote.)
There’s a strange beauty in the desolate Icelandic landscapes. I remember walking back to the hostel after a 90min swim at the outdoor thermal pool, and looking out into the lake and seeing this incredible field of blue.