Friday, October 29, 2010

It's getting colder!

And I'm not looking forward to it :(

Cold means bulky and layered clothes and coats that make you move about like a robot. Cold means wearing hats or beanies that protect your ears from dropping off, thus making you look like you have no hair. Cold means looking at the shower in dread. Cold means not wanting to move around much, thus making you fat, lazy and achey.

The only thing I can look forward to now is the trip back to KL... paradise! Every day I think about it more and more. But it also makes me wonder how much of a paradise it is. What about when I move back? Will I then be as dissatisfied with the way things are done as I was before I left? And can they pleasseeee fix the stupid broadband service problems before I get back? And Malaysian attitudes in general?

At least I have one fun thing to do here before I go back, which is celebrate my very first Sinterklaas. It's kinda like Christmas, but without the baby Jesus. It's more focused on the saint and his little black helper called Piet.

On December 5th, I'll go to Moeder Irma and Papa Bert's home with Schrobbenmaster, and there we'll exchange gifts, Secret Santa-style (I already know who I have to shop for - the lottery is all done digitally, man). But the hardest and probably the most unique part of this is that we also have to make 'surprises' (pronounced Dutch way, since it's a Dutch thing - "soo-pree-ses"). A 'surprise' is something you make yourself to house the gift, and it's based upon what the giftee likes. As Moeder Irma writes: For example, if someone likes to use computers a lot, then you can build a computer out of boxes and hide the gift inside.

It sounds bloody difficult and it IS bloody difficult. Add to that the necessary poem about the person or gift inside, and this 'surprise' sounds a whole lot more like a 'pain in the ass'. I think you need to take a week off from work just to set this up! And what happens if you get the same person more than one year in a row? Not that difficult considering there are only 4 of us (and before this, only 3 of them). It's gonna be doubly difficult to build another 'surprise' based on another 'like' of theirs.

It's too much work, I tell ya. Granted, it must be super fun to finally be there on the night, with your proud work of art being 'unwrapped', but wow, some traditions really require you to have an old-fashioned lifestyle of only working a few hours a day and the rest of the time locked up in your house with only cooking and knitting to do.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

In bed at 20.30? I'm a freak!

I'm sitting on the bed now in shorts and fuzzy socks, Schrobbenmaster chatting away in the background to his parents about money and savings, and two half-used tissues beside the laptop, ready to be used for either the annoying chin on my pimple or my occasionally runny nose.

Okay, that was too strange to erase... did any of you notice that I typed "chin on my pimple"? Geez, the pimple is not that big, JY!

I've been doing a bit of indulgent shopping these few days. Been looking at clothes websites like Mango and Topshop and even went to the final step of adding items to my shopping bag, then leaving the page. A bit of fake retail therapy. But it did make me clothes-hungry again, so on Saturday, I went out on my own to look for new clothes. It helped that I haven't spent much this month, so I felt kinda rich. I should really save, though. Really.

I just stumbled upon a new website today, which inspires me to make our home nicer. It's not really the items in the photos that I want, but more the 'feeling' that the pictures invoke. Check convoy out.

I can't wait till the NS Try Out Festival is over. Schrobbenmaster is already getting weaker and weaker by the day because of the long days and drinking at nights with the team. Seriously, how do these people do it? Waking up before 8am and then having drinks at the end of the day till 2am? To be honest, I find it kinda inconsiderate to expect everyone on the team to be able to keep up with that. And after the 3-day festival, they still expect everyone to be able to party it up till 6am. Wow. Maybe I'm just getting old. Or maybe they just don't have a happy life at home like I do.

Time to stop thinking about annoying things and going back to looking at pretty pictures, JY.

Nitey nites! xx.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Making my mark in Rotterdam

So here it is, I'm starting to make my mark on this little city of Rotterdam!

(I say 'little' because we checked the other day and Rotterdam has approximately 600,000 people, whereas KL has approximately 4 million. Everyone says it's only because all the other little towns and cities want to be independent and refuse to be sucked into one of the 4 randstad - Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. Rotterdam is the second most populated city in NL btw.)

Anyways, back from that little educational minute...

These are my boxes!

Well, they are following the KPN house style to a point, but the marketing material for the Pink Ribbon campaign by KPN has been pretty much done by us, ie. me. Can't be too crazy and I do get strict instructions on what to do, but it's still pretty exciting to see my stuff all printed out and in the shops!

And this is the shopfront with my boxes at the entrance. Niiiiiiiice. Now people will glance at these boxes and it won't even register in their little heads, but they will see MY WORK.


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Schrobbenmaster's birthday!!

Last Sunday was Schrobbenmaster's birthday, and although we had to work all night on Saturday and had to stay the night in Amersfoort for the festival we were working at, we ended up having fun that night with our colleagues.

It was the last night of the festival in Amersfoort, so everyone wanted to unwind and have fun, but the only place nearby was a 'bruincafe', a very Dutch pub/bar where they play crappy Dutch folk music and have live lounge singers (I'm no stranger to that one, growing up with a dad who likes that sorta thing).

Our colleagues had secretly compiled a box of 'goodies' at the last minute, consisting of the sponsored stuff we got from the festival. And at my recommendation, they included an Apple store voucher for € 30. Endearingly, one of the women used Microsoft Word to create a fake voucher until they got a real one. I thought about saying that I could use Illustrator to create something nice, but decided that it would be even cuter if they actually worked at making something in Word. Haha.

That's the Microsoft Word-made voucher under there.

The night before, someone had found a small bag of weed at the station. And we now miraculously found it in one of the goodie bags for Schrobbenmaster, planted there by the boss. It wasn't good weed though, according to Schrobbenmaster, so he let the others have their fun with it.

All our colleagues were already really smashed even before the bruincafe, having started drinking wine before leaving the station. They were creating havoc in the little bar. Really funny watching them!

It was a little annoying that they still allowed smoking in that bar, so for the second night in a row, I smelt like smoke (I had gone clubbing the night before in Rotterdam). I haven't smelt like smoke so consistently since I left KL.

The next day, Schrobbenmaster's actual birthday, we drove back to Rotterdam then got ready to head out to enjoy the unusually extremely comfortable weather. Felt just like summer again!

Of course, we headed to Bagels n Beans. Where I overheard the waitress telling a customer that it was her last work day there, before she heads over to Asia for 5 weeks and then on to Australia for 8 months for a working holiday. Then she said she would be going via Kuala Lumpur, and the customer said, "Kuala Lumpur is heel leuk!", meaning that it's really nice there. And then someone else walked by and agreed with her that it is "heel leuk".

After hearing that, I just couldn't contain my pleasure, and I went "I'M from Kuala Lumpur!" and the customer said that she likes the twin towers etc etc etc. And I was feeling so proud that people would say that my city is such a nice city even when they didn't know there was a Malaysian nearby. Nice!!!

After that, we went to Selexyz to look for a Moleskine for me. And that's where we bumped into Hanselm (*not his real name). I invited him for a drink with us and we walked to Cafe Stalles on the Nieuwe Binnenweg, where we had ice tea. Ice tea in autumn! Amazing.

Sucks that this is the only picture of me, which is from the waist up cuz I totally dug my whole outfit that day.

Me and Hanselm (*not his real name).

That night, we met up with a couple more friends for drinks nearby at Level.

Looks like a happy, cosy time, but two of those 5 drinks you see are actually mocktails! Boooooo...

Mai Tai and a Chocolate Martini. Harry insisted that Mai Tai is also one of the most lethal martial arts from Thailand *ahem*.

Interior of Level. Yes, Prison Break guy was there that night, but he was behind the bar and we got a very slow but okay-friendly waitress.

Looking quite cosmopolitan here! It's nice to not always have pictures of only one of us at a time ;)

Joel and Harry. Mocktail drinkers.

Harry left earlier, so it was just four of us by the end of the night. Again no picture of my whole outfit (although it was slightly different, waist down, from the daytime one).

It was a good ending to a good birthday, with friends and excellent weather. What more could Schrobbenmaster ask for...?

... Oh yes, of course, my presents to him! He's been looking for a sugar pot for a long time, and the milk jug came with it, okay, so don't go teasing me for giving such a domestic present. Included in the package were also boxers and socks from Paris.

Hope you had a wonderful time on your birthday this year, Schrobbenmaster! xoxo!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

An expat's shopping trolley and the Rotterdam pancake boat!

About once a month or two months, Schrobbenmaster and I drop by the Wah Nam Hong Superstore in Amsterdam to get our stock of Asian groceries.

There is also a Wah Nam Hong supermarket in Rotterdam, but check out the size of this warehouse!!! We actually buy our Indomie in those big cardboard boxes. We brought home 3 boxes of noodles that day, 3 boxes of Mountain Dew, 7 cartons of soya bean and 2 Milo tins (Milo is really expensive here).

Then we keep them in our basement like it's our little minimarket. There's the Mountain Dew on the left corner.

Anyway, some weeks ago, when it was still nice and summery (actually today and yesterday were really awesome, incredibly summery days in autumn. Very weird! But very great since it was Schrobbenmaster's birthday on October 3rd. Happy Birthday, Schrobbenmaster!!)... okay I've digressed a lot, let me begin again.

We went on a pancake boat in Rotterdam where you can eat an unlimited number of pancakes while on the cruise. We went for the 1-hour cruise up and down the river Maas and I only managed to fit in three pancakes.

Carolina and an angry man behind her. Probably didn't wanna come out with all the kids today and skip his golf.

A Chinese-looking building which is actually a boat with a hotel and restaurant. It doesn't look as awesome as it sounds though. Looks rundown.

It was finally time to stand in line for the pancakes! You can choose a plain pancake or a bacon pancake.

Then you walk over to the buffet table...

Where there are loads of savoury or sweet toppings for you to choose from! Yum yum yum...

My first pancake is with bacon, cheese and egg. And stroop. Absolutely lekker!

After that I had just plain with icing sugar, which was incredibly tricky because of all the wind blowing the icing sugar away while I was shaking it onto my pancake. Then with under 10 minutes of sailing time left, I raced down to get one more pancake with chocolate ice cream. Had to wolf it down, but completely worth it!

Now for some random shots (again) of Pim, this time doing what he does best - hunting insects in the summer.

He had been chasing a moth all over the room and now it was hiding in a small space where Pim couldn't reach.

In a different small space that Pim can't reach.

For the grand finale, watch as he goes in for the kill! Do watch, it's really funny :D

Friday, October 01, 2010

Supperclub Amsterdam and a day trip to Bruges/Brugge

For the first time ever, frachely is really up-to-date with blogging about her travels! Read about her journey in NL here:

For now, here are some pics from when Mumsy Bumsy and Yelleh Belleh were here. I didn't take many pictures cuz I knew that both of them would be snapping away on their holiday.

This is when we were at Supperclub in Amsterdam. It's a really cool place! I didn't know it was a dinner place as well - I knew they served meals, but this was like a whole performance. You have to make a reservation and come at the allotted time. So you basically have the same companions all night.

Firstly, Supperclub is down this really small lane and you can basically walk past it every day and not realise that it's there. That's the first cool thing about it. The only way you know it's Supperclub is if you look into the doorway and up the stairs, and see a man in a nightgown standing behind a podium with a big 'S' (copyright) on it. The Supperclub logo.

Then you go downstairs and have a drink at Le Bar Rouge downstairs (where everything is black and red) while waiting for the other guests. When dinnertime arrives, veryone walks together in a line down corridors, past a really weird Clockwork Orange type toilet (yes, you can see into it from the corridor!) and up again to La Salle Neige, a big white hall-like room with a mezzanine floor on the left and right (geez, I should've taken more pictures).

Our place was upstairs on big beds joined together. It's cosy if there are only two of you, but when there are more, it becomes a little tricky, as you can't lean back on the cushions without squeezing a stranger beside you.

So from the top, we get a view of the people opposite us and below us. There are also a few tables for people who are not so comfortable eating on beds. There was an Asian couple below who made the move. The lady was wearing an elegant black dress and pearls and she looked very uncomfortable indeed, sitting on the bed, legs stretched out.

All we have for our plates and glasses is this small metal table placed on the bed.

They have projections on the wall at the end of the room. Lots of film noir imagery really set the mood. Too bad there were only around 20 images on a loop all night.

And the dinner... the dinner was amazing!!! It was a 5-course dinner and every, single, friggin, course was perfect! The service was also excellent. The waitress assigned to our table was attentive, always smiling and very professional. She was also wearing a tight white singlet with men's white y-front briefs.

It was a really enjoyable night out, thanks to Mumsy Bumsy!

And of course, everyone who comes to visit has to go to our local Bagels n Beans :P

Having breakfast, yum.

We also took a day trip to Bruges (English/French) or Brugge (Dutch). Bruges is more Dutch than Brussels, so maybe I should be using the Dutch name for it instead. By the way, the French name for Brussels is Bruxelles. Just so you know.

Schrobbenmaster and I rented a tandem bike. We had initially wanted to rent two with the both of us biking Mumsy Bumsy and Yelleh Belleh, but they backed out cuz they don't know how to bike (gasp!). Mumsy Bumsy's mother makes fishballs from scratch and she herself doesn't know how to bike? Tsk tsk.

In the end, we were all pretty fortunate they declined the offer because when I tried sitting in front to control the bike, I just couldn't! Leading a tandem bike is way harder than it looks, don't let any of those French films fool you.

(See, we did do lots of things when you guys were here!)

Anyway, it's time for bed now. Tomorrow evening is my first proper Dutch class. Not looking forward to it as it's for FOUR FRIGGIN HOURS. And because I haven't been there before, so have to bike there on my own with Google maps. PLUS, I have another FOUR FRIGGIN HOURS the next morning early! Why four hours? Why? Why?