Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Amsterdam part 2: food & random

I'm sorry I've been a lousy blogger lately, studying for my finals are practically taking up ALL of my time. I don't much like cramming for exams this way, I feel I'm memorising blatantly rather than learning intelligently but I guess sometimes this is necessary in our present schooling system: study what you're supposed to study and do well in exams. Full stop. I'm trying to make studying a more happy thing but it's difficult because not everything I'm studying appeals to me. I do like most of the stuff I'm studying but not all correlates with my interests. But these are our final exams ever (we're graduating!) and it is only proper that I give my 100% in it!

Because I don't really have much to talk about, here are a few pictures from my last trip to Amsterdam that I didn't post in my last blog.

We went for a traditional Dutch three-course meal, which includes a starter of pea soup, a main course of mashed potatoes and Dutch sausages, and a custard pudding for dessert. The mushy pea soup was perfectly blended and a few pieces of sausages were added in it for flavour. The main course was the typical 'western' dish we were used to in Glasgow, but the sausages were really tasty. And the pudding....ahhh. It had the 'melt-in-your-mouth' feel and was just right in terms of sweetness and texture. I was the greedy one as usual and gobbled up my pudding as well as the bestie's! (sorry Wenchin, I know you love me.) I enjoyed the food (especially the dessert!) thoroughly and managed to finish every last bit of it. It was the largest meal I had eaten in a long time.

One of the good things about our hostel (Shelter City Christian Centre) was that it provided hot breakfast every morning, served fresh! And every day's menu was different. It was bliss to wake up every morning knowing that a nice piping hot breakfast was awaiting you in the canteen. Love!

And a few more random pictures...

It doesn't help that we have a trip to Greece and Ireland all planned out right after our finals. My thoughts keep wandering to the beautiful places we'll be going and what I'm going to bring on these trips, instead of focussing on my books. It's annoying! But it also gives me a sort of motivation to study because I know that the best part will be right behind the hardest part!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

toilet paper origami

I came upon this blog in one of the links at the left side of this page. And thought, why not?

So I went into the toilet in our flat and made the above designs, based on tutorials here.

Hope my housemates had a lovely surprise when they went for a wee this morning. =)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

ambient amsterdam.

Amsterdam was...nice.

It was a refreshing break from all the assignments and projects, and it was a nice change from the four walls of my dorm room.

It had beautiful scenery, with idyllic canals, artistic and one-of-a-kind buildings, and fantastic nature at its best.

It is supposed to be the land of sin, but we managed to steer clear of sin and instead stayed in a christian shelter right next to sin itself.

It was enjoyable, but there seemed to be a lack to things to do and see once nightfall came, and us girls who were less keen on the cannabis and sex, went to bed every night before 10pm.

(then again, the sex part was never an option for us as Amsterdam is the land of window girls and not window guys!)

Amsterdam has its fair share of beauty and bounty from mother nature. It would make a nice relaxing weekend trip for the less adventurous, and could also provide an exciting escapade for those who are more...naughty.

On the first day we went for a free tour of Amsterdam city by Sandeman's tour group. It was a perfect way to kick off our stay in Amsterdam. On the 3-hour tour, we covered--

• The Old Church
• The Red Light District
• The Jewish Quarter
• Royal Palace
• The Jordaan District
• The Anne Frank House
• The Dutch East India Company
• The Begijnhof Convent
• Masterpieces of Dutch Art
• The Widest Bridge and Narrowest House

Amsterdam is a place of paradoxes. A large church is located right next to the busiest part of the red light district, and people can go right from the arms of the girls straight into the embraces of God, to ask for forgiveness. Makes life much more easier, don't you think?

What's that sitting quietly in the corner of the building? That warrants a special mention by our tour guide? Aha! It is a PEE SHIELD. Literally, to shield the dark corners of Amsterdam from people's pee. When someone pees in that corner onto the pee shield, the pee reflects off the shield right onto the pants of the offender! What an ingenious contraption, eh?

Bucketfuls of flowers, mostly tulips.

On the second day, we went to the Keukenhof flower gardens. Amsterdam is famous for its tulips in the spring and Keukenhof is a must-go for every traveller to the city. The gardens boast fields and fields of tulips and loads of other flower species, almost everything imaginable under the sun. Unfortunately our timing was not perfect for the tulips and only about 60% were blooming. The rest was still sleeping or too shy to meet us.

real flowers looking as if they had been cut out from paper.

the greenhouse in Keukenhof where tulips can bloom and be pretty all year round.

The third day, we went to Zaanse Schans, a tourist area off Amsterdam with everything the city is famous for. Think windmills, cheese, wooden clogs, and canal cruises.

Zaanse schans. You can see that Amsterdam is all about the scenery!

Fourth day: we went to a few little towns on the outskirts of Amsterdam. Some of us commented that the scenic small towns around Amsterdam would make a perfect place for retirement. I couldn't agree more. Living in Edam and Marken would quite possibly add another 10 to 15 years of robust healthy years to our lifespan had we settled down here. What with bubbling brooks running right in front of your house and vast green fields of tulips behind, it's a wonder these quaint little places aren't overflowing with senior citizens!

in volendam, a small town on the outskirts of amsterdam. A lovely place to have a coffee and watch the world go by.

what is there to complain about if you lived in a place like this?

the all-girls tour group. picture taken from jane's camera.

Last day we hung out around the marketplace near our hostel and marveled at the huge array of veg, fruits and traditional Dutch pastries sold in the small space. I bought a piece of cake made from brown rice and walnuts.

wet market in amsterdam. So colourful and fresh and juicy!

A few of us opted to visit the Heineken beer factory, located right in the heart of its birthplace, Amsterdam. The short tour of the factory was perfectly planned and the layout was ingenious. It almost had a Disneyland feel to it, so good it was.Entrance fees were a little steep for us poor students (15 euros) but it was totally worth every penny, even more if you finish the three beers allocated for you.

Heineken factory visit, where everyone was entitled to three glasses of beer. love!

the apple pie Amsterdam is famous for. and coffee, as always.

breakfast in Shelter City, listening to christian music and munching on hot pancakes with maple syrup. picture by jane.