Okay, it’s listverse time! What do you need to do before Chinese New Year kicks down your door and sprays you in the face with FOX 5.3 million SHU OC pepper spray?
Well, the obvious thing is to (as my grandma would put it) GET A FUCKING HAIRCUT. I’m totally down with that, I totally understand that an untamed mane is a liability when all and sunder gathers around during CNY eve a.k.a. The Reunion Dinner (TM).
I still haven’t figured out what to tell them when they bug me about not being hitched when I’m 30 but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Anyway, I’ve been hanging out with Jeanie the past couple of days and last night we ate this super sized portion of Prosperous Mee Sua (longevity noodles) for RM 18.50++.
It’s pretty good – there are lots of goods in the middle – squid, prawns, mushrooms etc etc but what makes this dish from Tanahmas special is the way it’s served. Mee sua in Sibu is usually soggy and drowned in chicken broth – this version is a crispy and soaked in gravy and it’s very tasty!
The portion is a bit too large though coz my stomach has shrunk during my hibernation (not eating for 24 hours) so it took us quite an effort to even make a dent in the dish.
I told Jeanie that according to custom, you’re not supposed to break the strands of mee sua lest the Powers That Be/God/Sol Invictus/(insert deity) frowns upon you and casually strikes off a few years from your lifespan in His righteous anger (at least according to my paternal grandma).
I reckon we sacrificed 20 years (cumulative) of our lifespans coz we couldn’t finish the generous portion but still it was a good dish and I loved the goodies in the middle.
Wicked the Musical is one of the best musicals I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. It’s currently showing at Apollo Victoria Theatre in London. Yup, I caught the West End cast in this award winning production! :)
Wicked is actually based on the first of a trilogy of books by Gregory Maguire called Wicked – The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Most of you would have watched or read The Wizard of Oz at some point in your childhood. It’s a good movie but ultimately suffers from being based on a children’s book – it’s all black and white, good versus evil.
As you grow older, such concepts are foreign, nay, an insult to your intelligence, in a world you know has no such absolutes. It’s all shades of gray and Wicked will appeal to the older audience. The book and the musical adaptation has quite a few differences though – the book is darker and Dorothy does not make an appearance in the written word.
However, I love the musical coz it weaves everything together and portrays Elphaba (the name of the Wicked Witch of the West) as a revolutionary who fights for the rights of Animals. She is ultimately a very misunderstood character and you can’t help but feel sorry for her.
I managed to get reasonably good seats for 62.50 pounds (about RM 300) – it’s the very front row in the middle of the Dress Circle. I was impressed by the props on stage as well – the animatronic bird (?) hovering over the stage like a large pterodactyl that comes alive when the Wizard of Oz makes his speeches is awe inspiring!
The orchestra playing in front of the stage is so good that I went and bought the CD + program for 20 pounds. Wicked the Musical is probably best known for the song “Defying Gravity” which also appeared in an episode of Glee (the one with the wheelchairs in Season One).
I won’t spoil the story for you but basically the musical is about Glinda (The Good Witch of the South), Elphaba (The Wicked Witch of the West) and Nessa (The Wicked Witch of the East) during their days in school.
The witches weren’t known as such then (Glinda is such a selfish airhead) and the incredibly sad and touching series of events which culminated in the death of Nessa (damn Madame Morrible) and the vilification of poor Elphaba will bring a tear to even the most stone hearted man.
The production runs for about 3 hours, including an intermission between Act I and Act II and I cannot recommend it strongly enough for those with an interest in theatre (and even those without). If you only watch one musical in your lifetime, let it be Wicked. I got so angry at Galinda and felt so sorry for Elphaba even though it’s just great acting.
Amsterdam is famous for a raw herring dish served with onions and pickles called Hollandse Nieuwe. The best ones are usually found in stalls scattered around the canals. The traditional way of eating herring (as related to me by a Dutch citizen who saw me eating it and asked me what I thought of it) is by taking the tail of the raw herring, slathering it with onions and eating it whole.
However, the way herring is served in Amsterdam is sans tail. The herring’s tail has been amputated somewhere during its voyage from the North Sea. Instead, it’s sliced into manageable pieces and sprinkled with raw onions and some pickles. You’re supposed to eat it with a toothpick – mine comes with a nice Dutch flag on it – this is the famous stall in Koningsplein where you can get herring and broodje haring.
The herring (spelled haring in Dutch) is fresh and this place has a very healthy turnover of customers craving for some raw sea produce. It costs Euro 2.70 (about RM 12) for a whole herring and you can add Euro 0.50 for a broodje haring.
Broodje haring is basically an entire herring sandwiched between a bun. There are two types of buns in Frens Haringhandel – the traditional one is the soft bun. I would recommend eating just the herring but if you need a bit of carbohydrates to fill yourself up, the boodje hearing is a great option.
Fresh raw herring in Amsterdam is divine – it’s surprisingly creamy, a word I wouldn’t expect to describe fish. The haring has been deboned and practically melts in your mouth. It’s also slightly salty and totally unlike sashimi – definitely a must try if you happen to go to Amsterdam.
I’ve never tried British mulled wine before and I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. It seems rather hard to find, despite it being winter when I was there but I finally managed to track it down.
Mulled wine is red wine with spices like cinnamon added and served warm. It comes out of a pot – the glass of wine is filled by ladling the hot mulled wine into it.
The taste is quite extraordinary – the warm drink makes it perfect for sipping and the sugar and cinnamon tones makes it very palatable indeed…even for non-drinkers. It’s awesomeness in a glass during the cold days of winter! :)
This is a reproduction of one of my favorite t-shirts in Amsterdam. I’m a huge fan of statement tees. It’s quite catchy except for some minor errors since it was printed. Euro 5 would only get you one of the more common strains of cannabis – Thai Skunk goes for Euro 3 while the perennial favorite (pictured above), the indica based White Widow goes for Euro 8 per gram. Popular strains and winners from the Cannabis Cup like the Cheese sativa strains will set you back upwards of Euro 10.
It should be noted that even the most basic strains in Amsterdam is MUCH stronger than the stuff you’ll probably get anywhere else.
Magic mushrooms has been illegal for quite a while but smartshops get around it by selling magic truffles instead. It’s basically the same thing, with psilocybin and psilocin being the active compounds, but a legal loophole leaves commerce…unmolested.
Mushrooms are illegal but spores (for growing) and truffles (the underground bits of the mushroom for eating) is legal. It’s not Euro 15 anymore, but close enough for government work – the “stronger” fungi can cost up to Euro 20 per 15 gram dose box.
That’s it for Friday updates from sixthseal.com! Have a good weekend. <3
The Bloemenmarkt is the world’s only floating flower market on Singel (one of the oldest canals in Amsterdam). It’s built on houseboats and I’m a bit dubious about the claim since I’ve seen other floating markets…perhaps “only floating permanent flower market”? I wouldn’t even have noticed it was floating unless I looked at it from behind – stalls don’t usually set up shop over the banks of the canal:
I’m not the type to list down “Sights to See: Floating flower market” in my travel itinerary. I was looking for a smartshop on Singel and bumped into a couple of people purchasing the same items inside said smartshop.
They were the ones who told me about the floating flower market and we went and did the tourist thing that afternoon. Quite a few museums around here.
The Amsterdam floating flower market is pretty nice though if you’re into flowers. It’s quite beautiful even, once you’ve had some truffles to enjoy nature. They also have a lot of tulips, it being the flower of Amsterdam.
In post-Soviet Georgia, the flesh trade is alive and well. *ends pretentious investigative journalistic piece
I was brought to this hotel to play billiards and from the moment I stepped in, I knew that the billiard table was a secondary entertainment fixture rather than the centerpiece. My Georgian companions seem to know the working ladies pretty well (later learned that they live just around the corner) and the place is run by a severe looking old woman with several tough looking Georgian guys beside her on the ground floor office.
The billiards cum hostess joint (no pun intended) is located on the second floor, right opposite room number 6, which is used by the girls and women to change. I took a dump in the toilet, that’s how I know.
However, the place exudes nothing but fun, probably coz I didn’t pay a single honest cent for the frivolities of the night – will tell you why later – and it’s a little like the legal gentlemen clubs in Melbourne where you mingle with the working ladies before you decide which to pick.
…and the best thing of all is that you can just drink beer (don’t know how much it costs since my companions picked up the bill) and chill and talk to the girls without feeling pressured or obliged to engage in their services.
There are several distinct cliques – three at my count:
1. The young Russian and Georgian girls (teens to very early 20s)
2. The professional types who lounge around and can do some pretty serious stunts (like exotic dancing while holding on to your waist by the sheer grip of her thighs)
3. The old cunts who are fat and used up
It was a study any sociologists would have found interesting. The old and ugly ones are grumpy and mainly sit at a corner table smoking cigarettes while attending equally old men. The professional types comes and dances and plays billiards with us, giving us plenty of glimpses and encourages groping and touching, often initiating it themselves.
I love the young girls most of all. Their sheer innocence (not in sexual matters of course, you can hardly say that to someone who says she’s 20 but looks 17 and instantly diagnoses you with curiosity tinged with a bit of concern – “You can’t get off unless by hand?” in heavily accented broken English) is rather refreshing.
Now I have followed people to prostitution joints before (the politically correct term is “whorehouses”) but never have I seen the friendliness and playfulness of these two girls:
Meet Anna (Russian) and Lola (Georgian).
Both claim to be 20 but Anna has this self esteem issue where she thinks she’s butt ugly. She would be a great blogger if she has chosen another line of work – at least in camwhoring. ;) She anxiously looks at each photo to see if she looks good and takes another one if she’s not. -_-”
I’ve met people in this industry who is all business (and indeed, one of my companions went for the professional ones and came out disappointed, saying that she wanted more money for extra time – to be fair he was gone the better part of an hour ) and the girls clique isn’t one of them.
They are friendly and playful, always calling out “Huai Bin, Huai Bin” (not too shabby, managed to learn my name and some random Chinese phrases too – wo ai ni and wo shi huang ni – while all I managed was Ruski nien but that’s all right coz these two speak pretty good English) and giving you kisses and chatting with you. Hell, they even bought me food and I didn’t even pay for their services.
Anyway, these two intrigued me as they seem to be the only ones (besides one of the more mature professionals) having fun in the place. They dance and practise moves and rope you in as a not-entirely-unwilling partner and is genuinely interested in learning about new places and even exhibit interesting and unprofessional emotions like jealousy.
I guess their childlike personalities made them rather likable – didn’t see them drink a drop of beer or take any illicits, they’re more like teenagers in a line of work which they have accepted and made the best of it. Have you even heard of a prostitute (who’s bread and butter is paid sex) offering sex for free?
I would have put on my most cynical countenance with an appropriately sarcastic “Yeah, right” and either given you a look of sympathy, wondering about the fantasy land you’re frolicking about in your mind or rolled my eyes at how delusional you are to think that people in this line would throw you a free fuck just coz you think you’re a stud.
In short, I’ll have said that is a load of bullshit that I can smell from a thousand miles away…before yesterday night.
I’m just another face in the crowd growing rounder and rounder in the belly but now I’ll probably shrug, smile and think about the two girls in Tbilisi.
Hello everyone! I’m in Georgia! No, not the US state, I’m at the way cooler crazy post Soviet country. ;) I just arrived from London via Riga, Latvia. It was snowing when I left Latvia, very treacherous ice on the roads, slipped once and got my shoes wet. -_-
Anyway, I just had a long tour of the cobbled and narrow streets (would call them alleys myself) of Tbilisi no thanks to the guest house where I’m supposed to be staying. I had booked it for for 40 GEL (about RM 100) per night inclusive of home cooked lunch and dinner but they totally waylaid my booking.
I thought it was just for a day and it’s quite hard to communicate considering I have a very limited working knowledge of Georgian and my Russian is pretty rusty too. I’m kidding, I speak neither language but as always, get by with English and gestures.
Back to the hunt for accomodation, it turns out that the original guest house doesn’t have my booking at all! I had to go to several other hotels, some rather dodgy ones besides suspicious casinos and bars which probably sees several fisticuffs outside every night. I don’t know wtf is going on here but most of the reasonably priced hotels (around 60 Georgian Liras) are fully booked!
I think part of the reason (besides the Russian Orthodox Christmas on the 7th) is that most hotels have a very low capacity…like 10 rooms or something ridiculous along those lines (kid you not).
Thus, I am staying at this hotel which costs about USD 100 per night. It’s not the Marriot (although they have one here – with astounding rates of over 200 USD per night) but it’s pretty nice and it’s way more than I can afford. :(
Hotel Riverside is located beside Mtkvari river (which gives it the name I suppose) and they also were out of normal rooms so I’m stayin in a suite. FML. I am going to have to file for Chapter 11 before this Europe adventure is over. >.<
There is a queen sized bed and a single bed plus several couches and I imagine it would be affordable if you come in a group but since I’m traveling solo, all I can feel is a distinctive warmth down under.
No, it’s not a tingling of the nether regions but rather my pocket burning.
Greetings from London! Yes, I am still here, hanging around and catching several theatre shows I’ve wanted to see. I’ll be heading to Tsibili, Georgia the day after (Friday) for my primary destination, although it seems like I’ve spent more time in London than anywhere. -_-”
Georgia has been in the news quite a bit lately (on BBC anyway) and it seems like it’s going to be an interesting trip!
Anyway, I should be heading around but have been tempted with getting a dose of culture in the city. I’ve seen Wicked (awesome), Billy Elliot (not my thing), Oliver! (nice, and a good thing I catched it before it finishes its run) and my favorite – Chicago! =D
All theatre tickets kindly paid for by the betting centers around here. ;) I’m totally serious, I go out everyday and hit the Roulette machines after breakfast and won EVERY FUCKING SINGLE DAY.
Nothing big, mind, about 100 pounds per day average, was satisfied with 50 pounds once but it’s 100 pounds is my target. It’s been paying for my expenses, so what the hell.
I’ve also found this place which serves awesome fish and chips. Fish anyway. I have never thought that there would be huge differences in fish and chips, it being a simple dish and all, but there is. The chips are nothing to write home about, but their beer batter fried cod is to die for – crispy on the outside and the tender flesh just about melts in your mouth.
Anyway, I haven’t figured out where to go after I come back from Georgia yet, but I’ll need one last day here to go shopping for clothes.
It’s the post-festive season now so there are discounts galore. VAT is going to increase to 20% from 17.5% in 2011 and that’s another factor outlets are having insane sales too. I’m going to pick up a couple of pieces of attire – Chinese New Year is coming up (yeah, am old skool that way :p) and designer brands here are surprisingly cheap.
It’ll have to be on the very last day though coz I don’t want to be lugging bags of clothes around, slowing me down. It’s pretty rainy right about now, and I saw some fluffy snow flakes falling down a couple of days ago and the forecast says it’s going to snow on Friday.
I must admit, I have been slightly depressed – worrying about everything – health, finances, work. I don’t even know if I can make my money last for this sojourn to Europe.
Hell, I’m not even sure I can put a roof over my head during this entire trip, which is driving me to financial ruin. I was starting to think it’s a bad idea after all.
I haven’t been looking forward to this trip, to be honest. I was on the verge of saying “Fuck it” and crawled back home.
However, when the flight took off and the pilot told us to look to the right for the New Year 2011 celebrations, I felt…something.
Looking down at the fireworks from 35,000 feet in the air, it really hit me – this is a NEW YEAR.
It’s a time for new beginnings, a fresh start, and hell, I am going to ENJOY my Europe vacation!
So here I propose a toast – to new beginnings! :)
ALL HAIL 2011!
P/S – The nicely scented pen plucked from the bosum of the AirAsiaX flight attendant’s uniform I’m using to write this on a scrap of paper might have contributed to the general uplift in mood. ;)