Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thoughts about Scandinavia trip in brief.

The whole week flies past so quickly. Was sick in bed for a long week and finally everything seem to be well again.

Scandinavia seemed like twilight years ago now. So many pictures to filter thru before loading it.

Copenhagen was really good and compared to Norway Oslo , I think it was a better and prettier city. Oslo city was slightly more depressing looking, and strangely filled with more Asians than Copenhagen. I wasnt sure if it has to o with us living in downtown oslo near the central station, but the amount of blonds vs ethnic Asians was like a ratio of 1:10. Even the staff working in Radisson Blu hotel, were all either Africans, Chinese,Lebanese or some other non Cacausian race. As I roam the streets in Oslo, I didnt feel like I was in a local city, but as if I was in a transit city filled with immigrants and tourists. There were so many Lebanese that I was alittle taken back at the ratio. I wasnt sure if I was in the right city. I mean they still wear their "own" clothes, speak their own language, eat their own food. I dint see the blending in from a third party perspective.

Oslo certainly has tons of good restaurants. We were to 2 Michelin star restaurants and it was really good. However the best was at Lofoten restaurant where we went back for a 2nd nite because of the good food, reasonable price, and good service. For the first night, we were served by 2 waiters, and one of which was really sweet and friendly. We all started chatting when I commented it must be nice to work in a place with a beautiful view of the harbor. His replied "Yeah well...after a while..." and I finished it for him that "it gets a bit boring huh.." He grinned widely and we started laughing. My partner jokinly told me he can never leave me in Europe on my own for a min.

The second nite we went back, they rem us and we def had lotsa of personal attention and we chatted quite a bit. He was interesting. His mum is from finland, dad from spain, lived in sweden and he came to norway and lived here. Cool dude. He shared that he love serving people, and so he is doing this part time too as he decided to take up electrical degree as his wife takes up studies to be a lawyer.

In between the trip, we headed off to Bergen, the city that rains about 263 days of the year. We did both the "norway in a nutshell" trip to the King and Queen of the fjords. The weather could have been better but I cannot complain. I did see plenty of beautiful sights.

On one of the leg, where we had a couple hours on the cruise boat, there was a UK guy from Yorkshire -Lou who started to make conversation. We chatted for a while and was each other company for the time above the dry cabin, battling the rain and cold, searching out for the beauty that nature has offered us. So the lucky two of us got a huge break in seeing the most beautiful falls and rainbow before the American group who prefer to stay in the comfort of a dry cabin. My partner popped in and out to take some shots but he was more eager to finish his book at an exciting chapter.

Lou had came to Fjorfd before when he was young with his sister and parents. However that was whe he was 13yr and so he decided to do a longer trip this time to cover greater grounds of norway. He too shared the same view about oslo as me, and that Bergen was surprisingly more alive at nite than we both imagined. Maybe its just the drunken tourists making all the din...At some point in time, it was a little difficult to understand his accent through the roaring engine of the boat and the wind smacking in our face. Still, I definitely understand him better than some of the Queenlanders from Oz.

The trip to Scandinavia was a fruitful one in terms of the trips to museums and all. Even get to see the "Scream" and the summer exhibition of some of best work of Edvard Munch. The best thing? Photography is ALLOWED! So long you stashed your flash away. Seriously, I love this concept of being able to take pictures.

One of the best thing was that, we didnt see much of China tourists except one occasion where they shamed me beyond words. We were at Kronsborg castle, and the trusting Copenhagen people didnt allocate guards at every room, trusting the visitors to behave like PROPER adults. However, such assumption should never apply to senior china visitors who prob were not briefed on social etiquette. You know all the red lines where they barricade off which means no trespassing or touching of display? I was speechless when this 40yr+ china man boldy step behind the line and SAT ON THE displayed Furniture because he wanted to appear like a king in the photo shot!!! He didnt care if he may ruin or damge the display. He just selfishly wanted to be part of the exhibit to go home and brag to his fucking friends and family. I was so disgusted and too shock to even react! Before my senses return, the shamless pair ran off to follow the rest of the tour group. I felt so murderous because their single action would humilate all ethnic chinese who happen to be in the castle as them, being treated as a "bunch" of ignorant chinese. I have never hated the china chinese tourists more than that. Imagine if some western tourist does something so stupid in their Forbidden city, to sleep on some opium bed of the emperor, you think the china citizens will view that "act of vandalism so kindly? They will be screaming bloody murder till they are blue in the face, and demanding justice and apology for the brazen insult and disregard. Oh yeah, the china people will not tolerate other nationalities showing them disrespect but they themselves fail to behave as decent beings on the soil of other nation. Felt like spitting in their face of hypcrotical argument sometimes.

As for the typical Singapore travellers...while most of them I have encountered are all nice and well behaved...there was this family that also truly shocked me beyond words. As I shared the sighting in facebook, my friends were laughing at the "globalisation" attempt of our national brand NTUC. You see, one morning at the buffet hotel breakfast, I witness this singaporean mother, who came prepared and brazenly took 3 plastic lunch boxes and filled them to the brim with the breakfast content. She coolly and calmly shut them tight and put it into the NTUC plastic bag, before heading out to bag more food and plates of bread for her family. There were 6 of them, including their old parents and 2-3 kids. The whole family thought nothing of leaving the glaringly NTUC plastic bag, to monopolise and "chop" the table as they went scouting for more food, or whatever they can siphon away.

I didnt know what was worse, their behavior of "I paid for breakfast and so I can take whatever I want", or the NTUC plastic bag towering tall on the table, denying the busy area of other sitters. I cringed...she could have used an IKEA bag you know....That wasnt the real thing that shock me...I was just trying to see humor in the whole behavior...

Travelling often open my eyes to all sort of behaviours of all nationality. When a chinese couple was told they had thewrong seat, they tried to hide their embarrassment by behaving like boorish idiots. When I happen to tell a pair of Japanese ladies they had the wrong seat, they politely got up and even returned specifically to apologise to me profusly (again) for the inconvenience, which really it wasnt a big deal since it was an honest mistake. There wasnt any instructions about the designated seatng and plus nothing was in Japanese nor English, and I wouldnt have known if I had not thought to ask when I first collected my train tickets.. I dont think it has anything with the fact that I had converse in Japanese, I think its such a societal manners that is mould into their upbringing...I wish my fellow citizens and more of china travellers could be more thoughtful and sensitive as such.

And yet, in all fairness I cannot condemn all china travellers. I think the younger generation who are better educated or has seen more of the world fared better. They still keep to themselves, talk loudly, laugh loudly..but i think they are more civilised than the older generation who recently made it rich and think the world owes respect to them. There were a few incidents where I had moderately surprising positive encounters. Such as one when I was trying to get the bread toaster to work. The plug was on and I thought everything was done correctly. As I pondered and retrace my actions, this china guy who happened to stroll past also tried to help and eventually he depress the button further. It seemed that it had gotten stuck halfway when I pushed it down and it wasnt all the way down. I said thanks instinctively and either he understood me or he didnt, he gruffly nodded and walked to join his gang, In a separate incident, I was standing at the hotel main lobby door, and this china guy who was outside smoking bothered to open the door and remarked in halting english "It's raining. Big."

I guess the good thing about travellin sometimes isnt just soaking in the scenery. Its the interaction that either make or break the experience. I had a few very good chats with the locals, or fellow travellers and makes the trip unique. These are not the people I will ever meet again or stay in touch, but they will form part of my memories in this chapter.

It's a good trip even if it was tiring.
However, much that I like Scandinavia, I personally dont think I will be in a hurry to go back to Oslo...I dont think its a country I will return. I think I will try Finland and sweden the next time.

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