Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bristol 10Km Run 2013

I woke-up at 6.00 this morning to the noise of  Bristol City Council workers, unloading cones from the lorry onto the road.  Today's the big day - Bristol 10 km. Run 2013.  10 000 miles away, another BIG day: Malaysians casting their votes in the country's 13th General Election.  But that's story for another day :).

9.00 a.m. - all ready for the event
According to the event link, the race would start at 9.30 a.m from @ Bristol.  So, there I was, perched on the window, ready with my Samsung.  A large crowd had also assembled along the harbourside to cheer the contestants.  

Moments before the race, a lone wheelchair athlete whizzed through, signalling the race was about to start.  When the spectators started to cheer and clap loudly, I knew that the contestants were coming!

Here they come!
The first wave of runners

Go! Go! Go!

They came in droves!

Full speed ahead!!

All the way to Portway and then back again

There were some colourful characters...

Sponge-Bob was running for Ella :)

Going bananas! :)

An unidentified cape crusader :)

tutu and fro for a cause :)

'Gromit', 'Yogi Bear', 'Roadrunner' and an alligator, unfortunately, escaped from being 'captured' by my smartphone!  Huh!

The runners started from @ Bristol, ran through Hotwell Road up to Portway, before turning and heading back to @Bristol via Cumberland Road.  No end-of-race pictures from moi, though.  Too busy finding out about election results :)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Of red curtains and red lights...

It's been a long day.
been writing my thesis...
- that never-ending 'story' of mine :P -
on this shabby chic dressing table of Francie @ my landlady :)
(now converted into a messy study table ... hehehe!)

Outside, it's already dark
could see and hear cars passing by...
That's the good thing of living in the city
you are never alone and time passes-by with a blink of an eye...

Time to close my red (pink?) curtains...

View from the window with the red curtains :P

As I was doing that, I remember a time
at this very hour
different place, different city
a  lady was doing the same thing as me

not to retire, rather, "on fire hire"...

Enough of this poetry, now the juicy story!!!

Red Light District Amsterdam...
Sorry, not much to see say, really.
I went, I saw and I reflected (research mode...kekeke!)
They were just like you and me!
Could've been even doing their PhDs!! :)
Some of the pretty girls really looked intelligent, seriously!

I didn't take any photos.  I couldn't.
No, no, no!  Not because tak sampai hati or anything like that.  It was just the ruling.  There was even a signboard prohibiting people from taking photos.  You wouldn't dare take photos unless you want your precious camera to be bashed on the streets or flung into the canal!

So, I just walked, looked at what's happening around me, then went back to the hotel, feeling satisfied for having "been there, done that"... Oit!  Me didn't do nothing, ok?!  :).

Really, the way some men described the place... like it's a MUST-VISIT place when you're in Amsterdam??  It's like a market, really, where the 'sellers' pedal their wares and the 'buyers', negotiate the price before buying.  Strictly business.  I'm sure it's pretty much the same in Lorong Hj Taib or Kowloon...
(Been there, but done nothing, ok?! Hahaha!)

To get an idea how the place looked like, go Google.  If you are really curious, go see for yourself.  Don't bring the kids!  The girls might be put off, but the cheeky boys... WILL BE BOYS, I suspect! :)

Anyway, I managed to take some photos... not of the sexy ladies but the beautiful scenery around the area.

The beautiful view of St. Nicholas Church, from the De Wallen
Red Light District.  

Red curtains synonymous with the Red Light District

The Oude Kerk (Old Church) near the Red Light District

As for my curtains, no wonder they were on SALE! Hahaha! :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Soppy Hmv for Hubby

My laptop could not have chosen a better time to go KAPUT!  With all the writing to be done... GRRRRRR!

 Alhamdulillah, I married a techie - THE BEST, one could ever ask for (in a techie and a hubby :)).  Yeah, who would sacrifice a week's sleep (thanks to the 7-hour time-zone difference), patiently guiding an impatient and banyak songeh 'client'-cum-wifey, to trouble-shoot online??? :P

Thanks Jeej.

Thank you for your time, patience, money and LOVE.  God knows how much you have sacrificed for me all these years, and not hope for anything in return. I'll try my best to finish this PhD before I get permanent HEART damage... coz I miss all of you  terribly! :(

So, for your birthday, I've made this very soppy hmv for you... :)

Ngeee.... jangan malu marah eh! :)  Love you!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Amsterdam 2012: 'Foot' Notes

As I said countless time, the best way to explore a place is by walking. my well-travelled half told me that, actually, but I must say that he was right.  Yeah, it's tiring but at the end of the day, you will be happy with the experience, have loads of nice photos and will definitely sleep soundly.  Bom meletup pun tak dengar, penat sangat...huhuhu!.  

Anyway, to explore a city on foot, you have to stay in the centre itself.  The downside is, room rates can be a bit pricey compared to accommodation out of town.  However, you can ronda-ronda from dawn till dawn the next day (kalau larat la :)).  If you stay at the outskirts, yes, accommodation is cheaper but you will have to travel by bus, tram or train into the city.  You would have to pay a bit for your journey to and fro, not to mention the time spent on the road.  The problem is not so much with the fee (tambang), really.  Ada duit semua boleh jadi, kan??.  Rather, public transport is not available 24 hours.  So you will have to plan your journey so as not to miss the last bus/train that goes to your lodging outside the city.  Anyway, it's your money; you decide what's best for you and your family :).

Continuing where I left off, in Amsterdam, we went from place to place via boat and walking.  The canal cruise was like killing two birds with one stone - we got to experience the boat ride and it got us from one place to another...

As we took the Museum Line, our first stop was at Rijksmuseum.  However, we did not visit the place because it was under renovation.  After 10 years (mak ai!!) of building work, renovation and restoration, the museum will be open to public again on the 13th of April 2013.  Boleh pegi lagi ni... Ngeh!Ngeh!Ngeh!

Tak taulah mana satu depan, mana satu belakang muzium.  Yang pasti, masa tu under renovation :(.  So, we just took pictures and rested for a while at Museumplein which was at the back (or front?) of the museum.

The iconic I amsterdam.  Mesti ambik gambar kat sini! :)

The I amsterdam was the main attraction at Museumplein.  It was the first, of three.  The second one was erected at Amsterdam Schipol Airport in July 2012.  The third one changes location around the city, making appearances at shows, festivals and major events.  I know my sister and her friends had their I amsterdam photo taken at NEMO 2 years ago.

There's loads of people here, btw. I wonder how some of my friends managed to take their I amsterdam photos, privately.  Datang subuh-subuh kot!  During our visit, there was even an 'invasion' of British school children...hehehe!  Saksikan... :P

Anak sapa la ni... :P

Our I amsterdam!! :)

From Museumplein, we walked to the Van Gogh Museum which was just nearby. There was a long queue to get into the museum.  Luckily we had bought tickets, online :).  Memang peminat Van Gogh, gitu...huhuhu!  Kagum, because he was a self-taught artist who only started painting at the age of 27!  Whoever said that you need talent to be an artist!  Well, maybe he HAD talent which he wasn't aware of, earlier on :).  Among the permanent collections here were Van Gogh's Self-portraits, The Bedroom, Irises, Almond Blossoms and and of course, Sunflowers :).  As usual, no photos allowed in the museum.  So we had to content ourselves with photos outside the museum.

Some fancy pebble work... @ the new entrance of Van Gogh Museum
designed by Kisho Kurokawa Architect & Associates

During our visit, Van Gogh's work were being exhibited at the Hermitage Amsterdam (from 29 September 2012 - 25 April 2013), as the museum was undergoing renovation.  Yeah, one thing about Europe:  there is bound to be restoration work everywhere you go.  If you're lucky, artefacts will be moved to another place/museum.  I remembered seeing Rembrandt's "Night Watch"  and Vermeer's "The Milkmaid" (which were permanent collections in the then-closed Rijksmuseum) either in Amsterdam or Paris, but not too sure whether they were originals.  But then again, do museum's really show  originals??  Maybe I watched too many spy movies... :P

From Van Gogh, we hopped on the boat again, but I'm not going into that, as I've blogged about it.  I'll just write about the places that we explored on foot.  Well, our quest for a place to pray led us to Fatih Camii Moskee in Rozengracht, Jordan, Amsterdam.  It's a Turkish community mosque named after an Ottoman Sultan.  What's unique about this place was that it used to be a church.

Around the area you can find many halal restaurants.  Next to the mosque was a Turkish pattiserie which sold turkish delight and cookies.

From Rozengracht, we walked until we reached Prinsengracht Canal.  There were many places of interest there such as Westerkerk, Anne Frank House, a Delftware shop, not to mention the canal itself.

Canal, bicycles and the beautiful buildings... uniquely Amsterdam :)

Clockwise:  Cryuff, grafitti, tingkap belanda and dutch politeness

We strolled along Prinsengracht, took photos along the way and discovered a thing or two about the place, like... have you ever wondered why the buildings have those giant hooks at the top??

It turns out that it is used for hauling furniture into the building.  I guess the buildings are similar to those in England - narrow stairs, and equally narrow doors :).  But, here's the interesting part:  according to our travel companion Amir, in the olden days it was used by women to haul up their drunken husbands into the building... thus the origin of the word 'hangover'.  Hmm... Iyolah tu Mir?? :P

Anyway, it was nice walking by the canal and tau-tau, we had reached our hotel in Spuistraat.

Up next:  Redlight District

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Amsterdam 2012: Canal Cruise

Hello again!  It's 2013 and yet I'm still not done blogging about my 2012 escapades!:P  Yeah, will still try to write about my past trips in-between writing my thesis.  Wish me luck on writing (both)!! :)

To continue where I left off, I'll write about my canal cruise experience during our Amsterdam 2012 trip.

As I vividly recall, Amsterdam was a beautiful and unique city.  It had an interesting cityscape (the man-made canals), beautiful architecture, and various places of interest (museums, especially).  It is probably one of the few places in the world where sex trade is legal, and soft drug trade in 'coffee shops' is tolerated by the authorities.

To get around in Amsterdam, it is better to use public transport as driving is discouraged in the city centre.  When we were there, we had to park our car in a parking lot outside the city.  It was difficult to find parking in the city centre anyway, and if there were any at all, the fee would be exorbitant.  The preferred mode of transportation among locals, obviously, was the bike.  

City of bikes! :)

We didn't rent bikes, though.  With 3 kids in tow, we felt that it was more practical to go around on boat and foot.  I would say that walking is the best way to explore a place, but it can be a bit tiring.  So, to save you from aching feet, try the hop-on hop-off canal cruise.

There were many type of cruises available and we hopped onto one: Lover's Museum line, which took us around museum routes around Amsterdam.  The fare:  16 Euros for an adult, half of that for a child.  Don't forget to take a canal cruise map or two :).

The route map

The boat schedule

As we boarded our boat near the Amsterdam Centraal Railway Station, a multilingual tour guide cheerfully welcomed us with a fake American accent. There were not too many people in the boat that morning, so we got to sit near the window.  Looking around, I saw a building that strikingly resembled my husband's former workplace in Subang Jaya.  Check it out ... hehehe!

'Twin Tower' of Menara Mesiniaga?? :)

How was the experience?  I would say it's pretty much the same with the canal rides that you might have taken elsewhere, but of course, the scenery is different.  There were few futuristic-looking buildings like the EYE Film Institute of Netherlands...

Is it a spaceship??  No, it's just the EYE :)

... but I prefer the traditional dutch buildings along the canal :)

Alternative facade - another  reminder of home @ USJ :)

The boathouses along the canal.  Macam best je...

Replica of an 18th century Dutch East India Company (VOC) cargo ship 

Our boat :)

I took loads of picture during the canal cruise.  Alas, most of them were stored in my recently stolen Blackberry!  DAAANNNNGGGGG!!!!!!!!
Moral of the story... promptly transfer your pictures into your laptop, external hard disk or some place SAFE after each vacation :P.  They are your priceless memories ;'( ....

Canal-cruise verdict:

Canal-cruising is the most efficient way to see the wonders of Amsterdam in one day, as you won't be able to do so, walking.  If you have a tight schedule, take the canal cruise.  You can sit back and enjoy the sights of the monumental buildings and various landmarks (Anne Frank House, Westerkerk, Rijksmuseum, Nemo, etc), activities and life along the canal, and the various bridges (1500 altogether!).  If you feel like stopping at certain places, you can alight at the various stops.  That's what we did:  we hopped off at the Rijksmuseum, gawked at some Van Gogh's work (at another museum!), had lunch, lepak and ambik gambar kat Museumplein (I AMSTERDAM), and hopped onto another boat again. Remember though, the cruise is only for ONE ROUND TRIP.  Janganlah pulak ingat dengan tiket one way tu, boleh pi mai pi mai ikut suka hati korang! :P.  Kena tengoklah tiket tu untuk trip yang macamana... ;P

There are night cruises, too, though I doubt much can be seen in the dark.  Maybe, for a romantic rendezvous, sightseeing is the least of (their) concern...

I CAN'T ASSURE you, however, that the canal cruise is BEST for you, IF YOU ARE:

1)   One of those who suffer from motion-sickness @ seasickness @ mabuk laut @ yang sewaktu dengannya...  Maybe you should take tram rides, then :).

2)  An avid shutter-bug.  You will not savour the boat ride as you will be busy taking photos.  As the boat moves, you (and your shutter) will have to be quick, or you'll miss a fantastic shot :P.  You'll end up with many photos (mostly, composition entah apa-apa), a headache and  a keterkilanan yang teramatnya (as in "Kejapnya!!!  Tak sempat rasa naik bot pun??!!").  You can't have it all :).  Not if you are an amateur photo-hobbyist (pro bolehlah kot.... :)).

Well, that's all for now.  InsyaAllah, 'foot' notes next time ... (if I have the time :P).  Wassalam...