Sunday, 26 September 2010

one week over…

So ends my first week in Blackburn. How do I like it? It’s still too early to make a judgment. I felt better after posting that last post. Not too depressed now.. Just a bit bored sometimes. I’ve unpacked some of my things now. Had been reluctant before as I thought I would want to leave already and if unpacked will only need to re-pack.

Just have to get used to the new place….

Thursday, 23 September 2010


I’ve left this blog unattended for a long time, having not completed my amsterdam saga. Since then, I have completed my pre-registration training, got myself registered as a pharmacist in UK, went back home for a month and started a new job.

It’s the last bit that makes me want to restart blogging again. So far, I don’t really like it. Don’t get me wrong, people are nice here. It’s just that I feel like an outsider, which is fair as I had just started (it’s only my 4th day today). Maybe with time I will fit in but so far it’s a bit difficult as I am still finding my way around and trying to figure out how they do things here.

I suppose they did expect me to start on Monday, but nobody else seemed to know much what I was supposed to do. A week of shadowing makes me feel a bit useless. After coming from a place where I could do everything, I come here and I know nothing….

Woke up this morning thinking that I might have fallen into depression. Could be due to homesickness and the unfamiliarity of it all. Can’t help thinking whether I made the right decision in choosing not to stay in a place I know and move to a completely unknown area.

I probably just need time to adjust… In the meantime, I am entitled to feel sorry for myself. Being alone in a place where I know nobody…. I guess this is how people become depressed….

Friday, 16 April 2010

Day 3

I ended quite a while ago saying we were on the start of our great adventure. Here’s what happen on day 3.

We woke up early so we could have breakfast and get ready to embark on our cycling trip. We skipped taking a shower in the morning as the hostel had a very dimly lit bathroom. Let me go back a while and describe our hostel in Utrecht. It had a LED-lit room, making it really dark at night. They might as well not put a light in there. The bathroom is no better. Only a really small LED panel to light up a big room. I have no idea how people can stay there.

Back to the main story. We had breakfast that the hostel owner cooked and whilst we were eating, she gave us a roll of bags to ask us to pack for lunch cuz it’s free. She also plopped a bottle of wine next to us and said, “Here, for you. Take it for tonight.” We thanked her and started taking buns for lunch and boiled eggs.

Off we went on our great cycling trip from Utrecht to Gouda which is about 50km journey. I started off wobbly as I just wasn’t used to cycling with a huge rucksack strapped to my back. Coupled with the fact that the wind was against us everywhere we cycled, we very fast got tired. We weren’t sure about the way to Gouda as we only had a guide book telling us which path to take and both of us aren’t that great map readers. Having to stop every once in a while didn’t help matters. Sarah fell a few times and I think I was getting a bit hysterical – laughing at every small matter.

Someone told me that the Nederlands are all flat and will be easy to cycle there…… believe me, it’s hard to cycle. Especially if you haven’t been cycling regularly and training for this. I was so tired that I was nauseous. Needed to have sips of cola to revive myself. Quick energy…

After struggling for 3 hours, we had only reach Vleuten. Vleuten was only 26km from Utrecht. Meaning we were only halfway. Imagine my dismay….

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We couldn’t do it anymore… We decided to cycle to Woerden which was nearby and take a train from there to Gouda. It only took about 15 minutes to reach Gouda…. –_-..

It didn’t take us too long to find the VVV and ask for directions to our hotel. Hotel Campanile was about 15 minutes cycle from Gouda Maarkt.

Ooooo…. our hotel was far better than our previous accommodations. So much more luxurious.

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We cycled back to the town and wandered around. We saw the GoudA museum at about 4.15pm and went in to ask how much the admission was. It was €5 each but we didn’t were reluctant to go in as there won’t be enough time to slowly look in the museum. The man there said he would give us one ticket free meaning we would only have to pay €5 for the both of us. The museum was worth it.

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We also managed to pop our heads into St Janskerk – the longest church in the Nederlands – for free! It was 5 minutes to closing and we asked if she minded us popping our heads in for a quick look and she allowed us to do it!

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Gouda is a pretty place and I like it. It’s a city famous for cheese – Gouda cheese. However, the cheese market is only operational in summer.

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We had chips and burgers for dinner. Chips seem to be very popular among Dutch people. There are shops selling fries everywhere!

We cycled back and grateful to have a comfortable room to stay in for the night. We also had two free drinks from the hotel. We also hand washed all the clothes we had worn over the pass few days and dried them over the heater.

We then went to the comfy bed… and slept like logs.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Day 2

I feel quite foreign in England now. I keep waiting for people to speak Dutch and all they speak is English… I also keep waiting for American tourists to speak in their American accents but most people here are English… I look the wrong way on the roads as well as the Dutch drive on the wrong side of the road as with the rest of Europe… Slowly I will adjust back…

On to Day 2:

We woke up at 725am to get ready to eat breakfast at 830am so that we could go out early at 9am to find a bicycle. However, we only managed to get bicycles after queuing up for an hour at the VVV to enquire. It was however, easier than walking around Amsterdam to find a bike shop. It was a bit hard to cycle with bags at first but we got the hang of it after a while, at least I could start and stop without feeling like I was falling off.

We then took the train to Utrecht, foregoing our plan to cycle there as the time needed to cycle there would mean having no time to spend in Utrecht at all. This meant having to pay an extra surcharge for the bicycles.


When we reached Utrecht, we were trying to find a way out of the station. We followed the Uitgang signs (meaning exit – at first deduced by the man running to door signs). We found ourselves walking through a shopping centre and feeling foolish being the only people with bikes. Who else would push their bikes through a shopping centre? We then walked back to find an information counter and asked how to get out of the station!

After some time, we managed to stumble through an exit and went around trying to find a VVV (pronounced Vay vay vay – the information centre). We had to go there to ask where our hostel was. We stayed at B&B Hostel Utrecht CityCentre which was not too far away from the information centre. It was in an unmarked building and even dodgier than the first hotel. It was supposed to be 46 Euros for the 2 of us but because the guy gave us the wrong change, it only turned out to be 43 euros. The guy was a bit ADHD so I suppose that’s why he gave out the wrong change.

We left our stuff there and went out to explore Utrecht. We went up Dom Tower which was the highest tower in the Nederlands. We walked 465 steps up… and 465 steps down – making it a total of 930 steps. My legs felt like rubber when I was walking down and had to brace myself at the walls to stop myself from rolling down the stairs.DSC05421 DSC05427 DSC05431 DSC05432 DSC05436 DSC05437 DSC05439 DSC05442

Sarah lost her wallet here in Utrecht. Either it dropped out or it was pickpocketed – we will never know. All we know is that it’s gone. First I lost my railcard somewhere in Manchester… and now she’s lost her purse.. How unlucky are we?

We then ate at a Cuban restaurant where the menu was in Spanish with Dutch explanations… We just guessed what we wanted…

We then went back to hostel to rest and plan for the next day’s trip as we had to cycle a long way…

Day 1

We reached Schipol Airport at 6pm local time and started looking for information counter and to buy train tickets to go down to Amsterdam Centraal station. We got the train tickets and then had to find the correct platform for the train. One said Amsterdam Centraal, Sneltrain. I was thinking that Sneltrain means a very very very very slow train (like a snail) but later found out Snel is fast in Dutch.

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We walked out of the station into the city and was trying to find our way towards the hotel we were staying for that night. We passed by Crowne Plaza and asked the doorman for directions. He then gave us a free map of Amsterdam to show us the way to the hotel, which was a half an hour walk.

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We reached Hotel Kooyk which seemed like a dodgy little hotel (which did not deserve being called a hotel. It was more of a motel I would say). The room was very small, an even smaller toilet and a small bathroom.



We then had dinner at an Indonesian restaurant. Indonesian restaurants are very common in Nederlands, a throwback from the colonial times. Dutch people had developed a taste of Indonesian food and brought it back with them when they came back to the Nederlands.

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We returned to the hotel not long after a bit of sightseeing to rest and plan for the next day. We had an adventure ahead of us as we planned to cycle from one city to the other.