Monday, November 22, 2010

Update #3

I have LOADS of travel stories and photos to share but simply can't find the time to write nor edit the photos. In the past months, I went to:

  • Singapore and visited Marina Bay Sands
  • India and visited the Taj Mahal
  • Delhi, Kashmir and Jaipur, also in India
  • Sandefjord, Norway (again) for a meeting
  • Stockholm in Sweden
  • Bangkok numerous times

  • A few friends and I actually drove from Sandefjord to Stockholm. It was a 7-hour drive (plus a 2-hour ferry ride). Interesting story there.

    Also organized Syikin's baby shower. LOADS of photos there too!

    Will try to find time on top of the wedding planning to post stories and photos. Yea, you read that right. Wedding planning. I'm getting married! Hehe.

    P.S: I have a meeting tomorrow with Chenta Weddings. I am SO EXCITED and NERVOUS! Hehe.

    Sunday, May 30, 2010

    Keukenhof 2010

    Earlier this month, I visited Keukenhof. I was supposed to go with a friend, but at the very last minute, she was hospitalized! So I still had to go, by myself. (Note: She's ok now.)

    I arrived at Schiphol Airport at 6 in the morning. The weather didn't look so good. And when I asked the locals, they said it has been raining the past 3-4 days. Oh well, just my luck! But I kept hoping and wishing that the sun will be out later.

    So as soon as the VVV (Holland Tourist Information) is open (at 7AM), I got myself the combo ticket which includes a return bus ticket and the Keukenhof entrance ticket, and waited for the first bus to arrive at 8AM. Unfortunately, the bus was almost three hours late! Nobody knew what was going on. And everybody was getting more and more annoyed and impatient by the minute. Some (like me) continued to wait. Others searched for other mode of transportation. There were a group of Singaporeans who asked me if I wanted to share a cab with them. But as I have already bought the bus ticket, I didn't want to spend more money and burn the money I have spent on the bus ticket. So I said no. I am so kiasu! Haha!

    A father and son duo queued next to me. The son looked like he was about 8 years old. They were also before me at the queue at the VVV and I overheard the father asked the [rather rude] lady at the counter if he would have enough time to return to the airport to catch his flight. Then, when we were at the bus stop waiting, after almost three hours, they finally left dejectedly. The poor things.

    So, finally the bus arrived, and when I arrived at Keukenhof, it was still raining! Fortunately, I brought a jacket which was weatherproof.

    I was so amazed looking at the flowers. They were so beautiful! There were flowers of every colour you could ever imagine. And the colours were so vibrant and bright! No photography skills could capture the beauty!

    There were also upside down flowers!

    And some have funny names, such as Hotpants, High Society, Christmas Sweet, China Town, Curly Sue, Eskimo Chief, Miss Elegance, etc.

    I have always wanted to see Sakura trees (flowers?). I have a fascination with a lot of things Japanese. So imagine how I felt when I saw them at Keukenhof! I had to ask a passerby to take a photo of me under the Sakura tree. (Note: Please ignore the look of my pants. I had to fold them that high as it was wet everywhere!)

    I also saw a windmill. Very nice.

    As the theme for Keukenhof 2010 was 'From Russia with Love', there were several Russian 'items' around, such as these Babushka dolls..

    So after a long, wet and cold walk (I left at about 4PM), I decided to head back to the airport. My initial plan was to stay at the airport and wait for a few of my colleagues who will be arriving at 6AM. I brought a couple of books, as well as my Nintendo DS, so I thought I could rough it out and survive. But unfortunately, all the comfier chairs were all past the check-in gates. And it was too early for me to check-in (my flight leaving Schiphol to Norway was at 10 the next morning). And as I was very very VERY tired from the long day at the park, I decided to just stay at a nearby hotel. And boy was I glad that I did.

    It was an amazing experience to be able to see all the beautiful flowers. Before I end this post, here are some interesting facts about Keukenhof.

  • Largest bulb flower in the world
  • 7 million bulbs planted by hand each year
  • Only open for 8 weeks in Spring each year
  • Keukenhof literally means 'kitchen garden' and was so named because it used to be a castle's herb garden
  • Nearly 1 million people ranging from locals to presidents of foreign countries visit Keukenhof each year
  • Has clocked up more than 44 million visitors in the last 60 years
  • Covers an area of 32 hectares, 4.5 million tulips in 100 varieties, and 15 kilometres of walkway
  • Most photographed place in the world

  • P.S: I want to share a funny story.. In the bus from Keukenhof heading back to Schiphol, I noticed the lady sitting next to me took out a very familiar looking bottle of mineral water. It was a mineral water bottle from back home! So I asked her if she was from Malaysia. And the look on her face was priceless! She was so surprised and asked me how I know. And when I told her, she laughed. Hehe!

    P.P.S: I left Schiphol to Sandefjord, Norway the next morning at 10AM. When I arrived at the airport in Norway, I was so surprised to see that it was snowing! It was snowing in Spring! And as soon as I arrived at the hotel, I checked the temperature. And it was:

    Sunday, April 4, 2010

    Winter White Norway

    My last trip to Norway was much shorter than before. I went there for a 3-day meeting. Before going, I was very worried as colleagues there were telling me of 5-6 inches of snow daily and weather of anywhere between 0 to minus 15 degrees. But I was also very excited as it will be my first time to experience snow. And not just snowflakes gently falling down, mind you.. :p

    It felt kinda surreal seeing the amount of snow. Everything was covered with snow. Feels unreal.. And real at the same time.

    Day 1 - A Walk in the Snow

    On day 1, we went for a walk out in the snow. The snow was so soft, it felt like walking on a sandy beach - like how your feet push into the sand when you walk. And because the snow was so soft and so deep, my whole leg sank into the snow at almost every step! It was quite funny though. Because everytime it happens, I gasp out of surprise. And sometimes, I had to be pulled out! Hehe. And eventhough it was something below zero degrees, we were sweating! :p

    Trond and I walking carefully on the tracks, hoping not to sink into the snow at every step.

    Got one leg into the snow, all the way up to my knees!

    Sank again.. But this time only up to my mid calves.

    Me trying to get out of the snow.

    Trond had to pull me out. Haha.


    Day 2 - Making My Snow Angel and Spending Time with Tye & Eko

    On day 2, I decided to make a snow angel.

    They had to help me get up on the snow as it was quite high up, and with all the bulky clothing, my movement was kinda restricted.

    And as soon as I stepped onto the snow, I sank all the way in. It was really very funny.

    I forgot to wear my gloves! After 3 second of waving around in the snow, I thought I would have to cut off my hands due to frostbite or something like that. It was very painfully cold!

    My snow angel.. :)

    Then later, we went to Lily's for dinner. And I get to spend time with Tye and Eko, the 2 little devils whom I adore to bits. Their dad is a colleague of mine, who is a British. And his wife is Chinese. Lily told me that since they told the kids I was coming 2 weeks ago, they have been asking everyday if today was the day. They're just too cute! :)


    Day 3 - Skiing

    Then we went skiing on day 3. It was SO TOUGH! It looks so easy but really.. Looks can be deceiving. Especially in this case. Haha.


    Day 4 - Norwegian Home-Cooked Dinner

    And on day 4, Trond invited us to have home-cooked Norwegian dinner at his home with his family. In the morning, on the way to the office, we stopped by the fish market to get some salmon for dinner.

    I was really excited to see all the fresh salmon (I L-O-V-E salmon), and Jon HAD to take a picture of me with the salmon. Haha!

    Me pointing to whale meat. The first time some colleagues and I tried whale meat, a colleague asked, how come it tastes like beef? So we asked her, what do you think a whale is? Then, she realized they are NOT FISH. Haha!

    Me trying some bacalao. Bacalao actually originated from Spain and is dried salted cod. The cod processing method was introduced to Norway at around 1640. And now, it is used in a popular dish in Norway. The recipe uses olives, tomatoes, onions and peppers. And it is VERY YUMMY!

    The salmon Trond bought for our dinner. Looks so yummy! Trond actually sliced a small bit so I can eat it raw like sashimi. Hehe.

    The dish Trond and wife prepared. The gravy uses Norwegian butter (very popular). It's similar to Ikea style of salmon. My favourite!

    This trip was really something. There were so many firsts for me:

    First experience with snow

    First experience with temperature below zero degrees

    First experience making a snow angel

    First experience skiing

    First experience trying bacalao

    First experience having dinner at a typical setting of Norwegian family house with typical Norwegian food