Memory.. Little threads that hold life's patches of meaning together. ~ Mark Twain

Monday, April 30, 2007

Orange Day Celebration

My teammates had gone to Paris on Saturday and came back today. I stayed back in Utrecht to witness 'Koninginnedag' (Queen's Day) instead, which happens on 30th April every year.

The celebration starts on the eve which is also known as 'Koninginnenacht' (Queen's Night). People would be donning orange coloured clothes, shoes, accessories or even dye their hair orange. Some of them wearing funny orange coloured hats. I saw one wore a complete orange coloured suit (the blazer and pants!). Some organizations would also distribute free blow-up orange coloured crowns to be worn. From a bird's eye view, you're practically looking at a sea of orange! Of course, there's the tri-colour Dutch flags everywhere too but most of them comes with a long narrow orange streamer that is flown above the flag.

Koninginnedag 2007 in Utrecht
Orange, orange and orange!

Vrijmarkt (Free markets) are also set up everywhere starting at 6pm on Queen's Night right until 6pm the next day. That's the only 24 hours (or 1 day) where anybody can sell anything on the streets without any licence. You can see almost all kinds of stuffs being sold, mostly secondhand items that they'd want to throw out from their houses - from old typerwriters to furnitures to kitchen items to clothes and toys. There's also lots of people selling food and drinks (mostly orange juice). Also a very good excuse for lots of people to party, go crazy and get drunk.

And oh, there's lots and lots of performances everywhere. Stages being set up, bands marching here and there, there are also kids doing solo performances like playing the drums, violin, recorder, and so many more. Remember American Idol? Well, they have one here in Utrecht too.

Holland Idiots
Holland Idiots. *lol*

The entire city is practically noisy, crowded and did I mention, orange? It's not even this happening when we celebrate Agong's birthday! Although I'm not much of a fan for crowded places, it was still a great experience, to have the opportunity to be here in Holland and witness Queen's Day. :)

Now that reminds me, I still have some oranges left in the fridge which I must finish tonight. *wink*

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mari-lah Kita Recycle!

My teammates and I had been buying so many plastic-bottled drinks. During our first week in the Netherlands, we learnt that we could actually recycle the bottles and get back some money. My colleagues have tried with a carton of beer bottles before. So just the weekend ago, we tried with the plastic bottles.

Bottles for Recycling
Recycle and reuse

We brought a bagful of bottles to the supermarket, Albert Heijn in Centraal Station. Guess how much we got back... EUR 5 for 20 bottles. Not too bad la!!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Pannenkoeken Weekend

Yet another Sunday which means hanging out by the canals again. *grin*

This time we went to De Oude Muntkelder. Apparently when Google-ing for places to eat in Utrecht, pancakes at De Oude Muntkelder had been recommended several times. Surely it must be good, right?

My teammates and I ordered different types of pancakes so that we could all try them together. We ordered the bacon and apple pancakes, banana and cheese pancakes, and fruit cocktail pancakes. The first two pancakes remind me so much of our Malaysian 'roti canai'. Imagine a 'roti pisang' costs not more than RM 2, but over here, a banana pancake is about EUR 7.90 . Madness! The fruit cocktail pancakes looked nice and yummy though.

De Oude Muntkelder
Pannenkoeken (which means pancakes) at De Oude Muntkelder

The weather this week had been below 20 degrees. And it's supposed to be spring now! I need the sun desperately!!!!!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Den Haag & Scheveningen

Yet another weekend day trip. This time we went to Den Haag but our main reason there was to go to the seaside in Scheveningen.

To reach Scheveningen, we had to take Tram 9 from Den Haag Centraal Station, stop at where Kurhaus Hotel is, and the seaside is just behind the hotel. The hotel is really magnificent! Then again, it wouldn't be if it's not a 5-star hotel. *lol*

Kurhaus Hotel
Kurhaus Hotel

It was nice to walk around the beach, to see so many things like the cafes, the lighthouse, the ferries. But one thing's for sure, it definitely wasn't as beautiful as Gold Coast. The water was really brownish and the sand weren't as golden and soft. How I long to be back in Gold Coast with Inspector. *Sighz* Oh well, back to Scheveningen. We got to witness people bungy jump 60 metres above the North Sea. One of them got up to the jumpcrane, stood there for almost 15 minutes before chickening out. My colleague was cursing at that person coz he had been waiting to take a picture of the person bungy jump and wasted his camera battery for the entire 15 minutes which of course, ended up dying after that. Hehehe..


Not too far away from Kurhaus Hotel is where you can find 23 fairy tale sculptures (otherwise known as 'sprookjes') by an American sculptor Tom Otterness for the Beelden aan Zee Museum. They were really cute!

Sprookjes a.k.a. Fairy tale sculptures
Top to bottom :- Tin soldier boat, Hansje Brinker, Mad Mom and Fish with Solder.

We stopped by at a stall for some ice-cream and I couldn't resist not taking photos of the candy sticks. So many colours, so many flavours. So diabetic!

Which colour do you want?

And of course, being in Scheveningen means you must try the seafood there. So I got myself fried 'garnalens' (which means prawns) from Simonis which turned out really tasteless if not for the thousand island sauce. There went my EUR 5. *Sighz*

Garnalen (prawns) from Simonis
Fried garnalens that weren't worth the money

We left Scheveningen and took the tram back to Den Haag. The map that I got off the Internet weren't very detailed, so we ended up getting lost in the city centre. *Double sighz*

Den Haag
Government buildings and statues

But there were also a couple of interesting things in Den Haag.

Found in Den Haag
The clock, giant-sized backpack, rows of bicycles (ok, this is not very interesting) and stickmen decors above a building

Somehow I don't find Den Haag a very interesting place. Then again, I probably didn't venture to more of those tourist attractions. Hhhm... Anyhow, another city off the 'Places to Visit in the Netherlands' list!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Misheard Conversation

Today at the office, a Dutch colleague came into the room for a little chat with us, asking us what we thought about the beach coz we had previously told him that we were planning to go to the seaside in Scheveningen, and also asked how were we faring in our cooking.

And what we heard were :-

Hes: How do you like the bitch?

Hes: How is your cock? (coz cooking is 'kok' in Dutch).

See la just how screwed up our minds are??! A Yugoslavian colleague couldn't stop laughing and had to run out of the room. *lol*

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Castle Visiting

5 more weeks! Can you see how desperate I am, counting down the days till I am back home? *grin*

My teammates and I decided to do some exploration to the castle in Maarssen, just outside Utrecht. After a quick breakfast, we headed down towards the Centraal Station to switch to bus #36 and got off at Oud-Zuilen. After almost a 10-minute walk into the village, we reached Slot Zuilen Castle.

Slot Zuilen Castle
Medieval castle

Didn't look as fascinating as what we saw in the Internet though. We didn't want to pay EUR 7 for a guided tour around the castle, so we just took some pictures and left. Well, at least we've seen a castle in Holland. Hehe..

We noticed there was a windmill not too far away from the castle. So we walked.. And walked.. And walked.. Under the hot, hot sun! The weather had been over 25 degrees this week, the hottest Holland has ever experienced in the last 100 years! We almost wanted to give up walking, it seemed so near yet so far. And so tiring! Finally we reached the windmill, which we do not know the name of it, and we saw lots of farm animals.

Border between Maarssen & Utrecht
A picture summary of Maarssen

Couldn't help not taking the picture of the border sign between Maarssen and Utrecht. :) Oh by the way, 'Tot ziens' means 'Goodbye in Dutch. 'Doei' (pronounced as 'dui') is a slang for 'Goodbye' too. So you do "Doei, doei!" like saying "Bye bye!"

We were darn tired by the time we walked out of the village and back to the bus stop, but we were energetic once again when Phantom said that he would give us a treat in the city centre. "Red company belanja one!" So off we went, took the bus back to Utrecht, walked from the Centraal Station to the canal bridge, Oudegracht in the city centre. We hung out at the cafe by the canals, Fusto d' Oro. Ordered drinks, shared a ham pizza, basked under the sun and watched the world go by. Sat there for almost 3 hours before we decided that we were getting a bit of a sunburn. *grin*

Fusto d' Oro
So summery!

After that, we made a 'pledge' that we would hang out by the canals every weekend from then on. :)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Oh Keukenhof!

Oh what a beautiful morning! Oh what a beautiful day!

A very sunny and lovely day today. My teammates and I took a train trip down, or rather, to the west to Leiden, jumped onto Bus #54 (Keukenhof Express) which goes directly to the park, Keukenhof, the most beautiful spring garden in the world, in Lisse. Upon crossing the entrance, we were immediately greeted with lots and lots of colourful flowers everywhere!

Welcome to Keukenhof!

See the gardens, soooo many colours! Even staring at the colourful bulb field was enough to make me go "Wow!".

Then of course, you'd just can't resist not taking any photos of the flowers.

Tiger lilies, all sorts of tulips, chrysanthemums, roses and gerberas

Didn't I tell you that it's very colourful? If that's not enough, here's more..

More lilies, daffodils, orchids, anthuriums, tulips and bromelias.

Oh by the way, the purple-white tulips are known as 'Rembrandt Tulips'. So cool, eh? Think I took almost 200 pictures, and probably only 3-4 with me in them. *lol* We spent between nearly 4 hours walking throughout the garden and it was really nice to be able to see sooo many colours, sooo many different flowers, and the fragrant smell of the flowers just makes you feel like you're in paradise. *swoon*

I just can't stop browsing through the photos. Hehehe.. I really can't!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter Monday Walk

Colleagues have gone to Brussels for the weekend and I heard that shops would be opened on Easter Monday. So I decided to go out to the city centre again.

So darn disappointed when I saw all the shops were closed instead. *sad* But it was alright. Armed with a map and my camera, I explored around again. This time, I saw more statues which unfortunately, I really did not know who did the statues resemble except the one on Anne Frank. Well, that also coz the name was engraved on the stone. Hehe..

Statues in Utrecht
Statues in Utrecht

I went on a search for the Museum of Chimes and Barrel Organs. According to the map, I get to compose my own music box tune there. After 20 minutes or so and asking directions, I found myself at Museum van Speelkolk. For EUR 7, I joined the guided tour and saw so many barrel organs of various sizes. Some of them goes to the size of a 3-seat couch, or probably even larger!

Museum van Speelklok
Left: Largest barrel organ; right : cute music boxes

After a tiring 3-hour walk, I lavished on a fresh, hot croquette and yummy vanilla milkshake from Bram Ladage.

Bram Ladage

Such a relaxing Easter holiday!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Typical Saturday in Utrecht

Since it's Saturday, I decided to walk around the city again. I'm on a mission to scout for a bookstore that sells lots of English reading materials. I'm dying for one!

Did some walking around, and I see people queuing up to buy fresh and hot fries to munch. I see traders selling all sorts of things, from fresh fruits and veges to clothes, to pashminas (they go for 2 for EUR 5), to shoes and oh, flowers! Lots and lots of flowers. So colourful and so cheap! I see a man playing the harp by the roadside. I see people hanging out by the canals, having drinks and enjoying the lovely sun. If I had a book with me, I would have 'lepakked' by the canals too. :

Typical Saturday in Utrecht
The colours in Utrecht

I did a pitstop at the Dom cathedral again. This time round, I entered the church and saw the lovely garden in the center.

Dom Tower & Church
Dom Tower & the Church

In the end, I got myself a book at Selxyz & Broese. A 2-way English-Dutch pocket dictionary! Tee hee hee.. For EUR 7.95, I can finally read the newspapers other than the TV guide!! Whooppeee do!

Friday, April 06, 2007


TGIGF = Thank God It's Good Friday!

It's Easter Friday today and it's a public holiday for so many countries. Or rather, at least I know that Red company's offices in parts of Netherlands, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, Chile are closed today. I suspect that many companies here in Utrecht are closed too coz the buses seemed quite empty, i.e. for once I didn't need to stand!

Was so darn sleepy until my colleague told us that we can actually go off at 4pm today, an hour earlier than usual. I am sooooooo wide awake now!! Tee hee hee.. All the small little things that make me happy. :D I get to go back earlier! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!

Now, I have a tiny weeny problem. I guess I'm already recovered from chicken pox. No more new pox and scabs are healing (but there are still lots of black spots.. How ah??!!). The thing is, my teammates told me not to take chicken, chocolates and dark sauces. One of them even said that he had to abstain from eating chicken for 3 months after getting chicken pox.

How long should I really avoid these stuffs? Coz it's Easter and I wanna go buy some yummy Easter chocolate eggs...... How ah?? Can I take chocolate now? Can I? Can I? *bambi eyes*

Happy Easter, everyone!!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Planning For The Coming Weekends

I'm busy making plans for the coming weekends till the day I leave Netherlands. Tee hee hee..

So far, I've been to these places :-

- the HQ of Red company, where I was on training during the first 2 weeks upon arrival in The Netherlands. The home of painter Johannes Vermeer. The residence of William of Orange (didn't even realize that I took a picture of his statue!). Also famous for its hand-painted porcelain.

- twice! Hehe.. 7 years ago, I went for the pedal-biking around the canals, saw how 'window shopping' is there, heard about 'coffeeshops' and watched a live sex show at Red Light District (RLD). This time, I went for the boat ride, entered the Sex Museum and brought my colleagues to RLD. I hope to go to Amsterdam again. I wanna visit Anne Frank's house, Heineken Experience and probably take some pictures in Van Gogh museum for Gummy.

Den Haag
- the city of peace and justice. Had only visited Madurodam where the miniatures of Holland are. And 7 years ago to Scheveningen, a fishing village (I think!), in short it's famous for seafood! Plan to go to this city again to visit the museums (like Escher in Het Paleis, and Het Mauritshuis).

- the only interesting spots (for me!) were the Kijk-Kubus (cubic houses), Oude Haven and Euromast Tower.

- where I'm currently staying for 2 months. So far, I had only gone up the Dom Tower and walked around the markets.

For the next coming weekends, this is what I plan to do:-

7-8 Apr : Easter weekend (9th is a public holiday!). Colleagues are going to Belgium, so I'm free to roam around Utrecht myself (I'm dying for a bookstore that sells English reading material and wanna check out the canal houses).
14-15 Apr : Keukenhof with my colleagues - see lots and lots of tulips!!
21-22 Apr : A colleague might want to go to Germany, so either I'll go visit a city myself or with them.
28-29 Apr : 30th is public holiday - Queen's Day. Colleagues are going to Paris. I'm gonna stay back to witness the celebration. I heard the whole country's gonna be in orange and there's a procession!
5-6 & 12-13 May : Day trip visits to a few more cities. Any suggestions where? Leiden, perhaps? Or Muiden to see Muiderslot Castle, but no idea where is that. Or Volendam?
17 May : Public holiday again - Ascension Day. What do the Dutch do on this day?
18 May : Depart from The Netherlands and fly back to Malaysia. YES!

Sounds fun, eh???? Hehehehehhe....