Friday, February 29, 2008

snapshots of norway!

helloooo... the photos of norway are up on facebook! some of the photos are taken by alvin because he keeps kidnapping my kanon. nah actually it's because he has phua chu kang boots in tromso which were skid proof. but of course, the nicer ones are taken by me. hahaha! just kidding. (no, seriously.) enjoy! photos courtesy of alvin will be tagged.

snow filled bench in tromso

laughing in tromso

keeping guard at oslo fortress

3 smu + 1 mexican jump

click here for more photos of tromso

click here for more photos of oslo

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

i miss singapore.

i know this is a bit slow, but it hasn't really sunk in that we've won the first ever summer youth olympics until now. congratulations singapore! reading about the news and watching the videos makes me miss home terribly, but thanks to this lighthearted video, i feel as if i was there celebrating with everyone at home. three cheers for the little red dot! =)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

back from the northern end of the world.

so i'm finally back from norway! i saw snow for the first time in my life, saw the legendary lunar eclipse, saw reindeers, almost everything but the northern lights. =/ the sky was very cloudy which made it extremely difficult to catch the lights, and apparently the weather in norway has been abnormal this year. the norwegians i spoke to said that it would usually be really cold at this time of the year, around -10 deg celsius but when we were there the temperature was only about -2 deg c. , and my last day in oslo it was a whopping 10 deg c.! signs of global warming perhaps?

so not being able to catch the lights, which was why i went to norway in the first place, made it a weird trip in all. of course i was terribly disappointed, but i figured the next time i'll catch it again but with mike around. more "lomantik" you know. =)

map of norway

i spent 4 days in tromso, one of the most northern places on earth, and it was snowing the day we arrived. this being the first time i see snow, i was definitely excited. everywhere was covered in white and with flakes falling from the sky, it was a very pretty sight. what i didn't knew before was that snow which became compact after many people have walked over it equals slippery ice. on the first day i fell down FOUR times, but the overall fall-over-as-much-as-you-can winner has got to be jianfeng, because i got smarter and exchanged my shoes for some soccer boots. heh!

i don't want to sound like a nag, so here's pretty much what's worth mentioning:

1) is freaking expensive
norway's currency is the norwegian kroner. S$1 is approximately 4 kroners, and a bottle of mineral water is at least 24 kroners. you do the math.
2) has a lot of space
do you know that norway is about 500 times larger than singapore, but only has a population of 4.7 million, which is almost the same as singapore's? should you need a holiday away from the crowd, you know where to go!

1) is beautiful.
the mountains, the arctic ocean and snow form part of the breathtaking scenery tromso has to offer. the unique arrangement of houses sloping downwards and facing the ocean makes the area look straight out of a christmas card, even more so at night when the buildings are lit.
2) has lousy and expensive tourist attractions.
i haven't been to all the attractions, but what was stated as the highlights in the visitor's centre turned out to be less than delightful. a reindeer sledding activity costs about 1500 kroners (S$375!!!!!!!!!) which turned out to be nothing more than a grumpy reindeer pulling you around a small circle twice, a talk on some norwegian traditions and free flow of reindeer soup. the rest who went to the town's museum (~S$20) came back cursing and swearing too. so remember, the best thing to do in tromso is to just relax, take in the view and do nothing.

1) is odd.
i expected more of the capital of norway, being a city with one of the highest standard of living in the world. what i saw was poorly maintained buildings in the city centre, with an usually high number of turkish kebabs stores and filled with people of which i can only guess are of turkish and african-american nationalities. no doubt there still are some decent historic forts and buildings here and there, but i personally feel that the city lacks an identity and i pretty much prefer tromso to oslo.

that sums up a very weird trip to norway but nonetheless an enriching experience. will post some photos soon!

Monday, February 18, 2008

flying solo.

i've been getting complaints from my no. 1 fan that i don't post enough information on what's going on in maastricht, and he would very much like to find out more about my daily life. he even provided some tips on what to write, like posting about my room mate etc. he also grumbled (a little) that i don't have enough photos of myself, that being a problem since i am usually behind the camera. in response to his grievances, i promise to be more informative about my life over here (not that it's been very exciting the past few days, unless you consider reading a pile of notes exciting) and post a few more pretty shots of myself.

i'll be leaving for norway tomorrow and returning only on sunday. it's a long and costly trip up north but i've always wanted to witness the northern lights, so now is the best time to go since i'm already in europe. i'll be bringing my luggage to class, head straight to the train station after to amsterdam and then catch a flight to oslo - all by myself. it's a first time. i'm excited, scared, anxious, anticipating etc etc etc. i'll be looking forward to seeing familiar faces at the oslo airport. =)

just as a trivial information, the northern lights are also known as Aurora Borealis, a natural phenomenon usually observed in the night. wikipedia has further explanations and photographs about them. i hope i get to see some nice ones when i'm over!

until then, seeya!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

cooking for love.

valentine's day is not big in maastricht, but the bunch of us singaporeans decided to have a lovely dinner together yesterday night. it was a fully homecooked 3 course meal except for dessert which was bought from the store. nowadays, recipes come in every single form you can think of. ours came in the form of a video:

and here's the end result:

it tastes 100000x better than it looks =D

the chicken was pure heaven. every bit of meat was tender and flavourful, and i dare say it was one of the best roast chicken i've ever eaten!

click here for more photos, happy belated valentine's day everyone! =)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

ooo it's cold in here..

woke up to see the whole place covered in thick fog and it was freezing cold outside! i had fun playing, breathing out smoke! =)

light freezing fog - even the fog is feeling cold!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

some things i've learnt.

oh man, i suddenly miss blogging about all the yummy food in singapore. it's like my blog seems to be lacking some punch without dim sum or cai tau kueh. that aside, the best entertainment i can provide would be some stuff i've learnt since i've been here, which may hopefully be of interest to you.


the dutch really love their fries. they have shops around selling nothing but fries. fries with mayonaise, fries with beef sauce, fries with everything you can possibly think of. their fries are large chunky cuts and they're really generous in their servings, be it the potatoes or the sauces. the problem is, the people here still look slim and tall despite their fries eating habit, it's puzzling. i didn't even dare to touch this packet of fries much because i know what it could do to my already slim (haha) waist. forget marie france bodyline girls, come to netherlands and lose weight!


in singapore, nobody gives a damn about reading weather forecasts because the weather's either hot or hotter, save those special rainy days where there's a sudden glimpse of hope that it MIGHT just snow. over here, the weather's a big thing. tv stations will have real time reports about the temperature, wind speed and direction etc, because if it's going to be windy it means prepare your gloves and scarves. it's really no joke to be stuck out in the cold with your teeth chattering and knees buckling. hence, according to mike, the cute little forecast right below my blog page.
i wish i could post some photos here, but my photo taking skills have been really pathetic so i'll pass on that for now. hope everyone back home's having a smashing chinese new year! =)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

happy new year!!!

happy chinese new year everyone! what a long holiday this year for singapore! as for me, my orientation officially starts tomorrow, great timing right haha! being the chian that i am, i'd rather bring one less underwear than to not pack this into my bag for some chinese new year loving down here:

thanks to wilson gor gor, i have not one, but two boxes of pineapple tarts! which means i'm blessed enough to share them with the rest of the singaporeans here. for those at home, have fun indulging!
gong xi fa cai! hong bao send over to netherlands!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

i finally cooked something proper.

this was my first proper dinner which i had last night since arriving. i cooked maggi mee the previous night but felt miserable after eating it haha! aglio olio, salad with fried shallots and sesame oil dressing and a store bought chicken. not bad except the chicken was too salty and my pasta was a little on the oily side, plus i was too full afterwards!

the only thing missing here is a green ogre. ;)

Monday, February 4, 2008

carnaval: the license to be crazy.

from sunday till tuesday, the town of maastricht celebrates Carnaval. it's held exactly 40 days before easter and marks the beginning of lent for the roman catholics. historical facts aside, it's actually just a festival that allows people to dress up in ANY type of costume and act all crazy and happy because no one will recognise them anyway.

carnaval is a really big thing in maastricht, and the people seriously spend lots of time and efforts in creating their costumes, some of which turn out to be really amazing! there's a parade just like the chingay in singapore, and people just hang around with LOTS of beer at hand. i bet there's probably some statistics somewhere that the dutch drink more beer than water.

anyhow, it was quite a fun day today and i finally tried my 50mm lens with kanon! loved it! more photos on facebook!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

jetlag is real.

whoa now i understand what is jetlag. i woke up at 5am and couldn't fall asleep at all, and by 8.30 i was already yawning like a roaring lion. my roommate is finally here and she's a korean! today was not bad a group of us girls (2 koreans, 1 swedish, 1 italian, 1 columbian, 1 turkish and 1 of me) checked out the town centre to get costumes for tomorrow's carnaval, a big event in the town of maastricht. also, i'm finally bringing kanon out to walk walk so i hope i can get some nice photos tomorrow.

this evening, i experienced why an exchange can be so enriching, 7 of us internationals sitting together at dinner, countries and issues that you've always heard about or seen on the news suddenly become alive and in your face. from the reality of bombing in cities to the learning of english which we so often take for granted, it really was a humbling time listening to the conversations which flowed.

oh and i finally found singaporeans! it felt so good to see and talk to them. i think i was so deprived i couldn't stop chattering and grinning heh. not just 1, but 5 of them from nus! yayness.

it was a beautiful day today with blue skies, and it was actually snowing in amsterdam, which is really very rare! too bad the snow got its direction wrong. hello... i'm in maastricht not amsterdam!

sorry i haven't found out what building you are.

this will win the pimp-my-mercedes contest

for all nike fans out there.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

hoi! as they say it.

hello everyone! after a 13 hour flight, 3 hour train ride, i finally arrived in maastricht. very busy trying to settle down, so i'll leave the talking to another time. reached on fri with no phone line, internet and barely a friend, i was totally miserable. well the days will only get more blessed so i'm not worried! it's only 10pm here (5am s'pore time) but i'm already very sleepy, so some badly shot photos for now. i miss home but i'm looking forward to more adventures!

amsterdam airport train station

my train ticket from amsterdam to maastricht, 28.50 euros

fast and efficient electric trains

finally at maastricht! the guy i took train with.

maastricht the university town

first steps into my room

the kitchen in my room

my half of the room

walking around on day 2

the streets here all look like this. nice!

the freezing cold gloomy weather

all the trees are botak!

the bike i bought from the girl last sem but haven't looked for it in the garage yet.