Bloemenmarkt – the world’s only floating flower market

amsterdam flower market

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:

Bloemenmarkt

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.

flower market us

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.

flower market

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.

tulip bulbs amsterdam

Remember tulip mania?

Posted: 9:59 am Amsterdam time (GMT +1)

Where the wild things are

Prostitution in Tbilisi, Georgia

dark side of georgia

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. smirk

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:

georgian russian 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 smirk) 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.

Part 1 of the Tbilisi, Georgia Chronicles.

(To Be Continued)

Next up: There is such a thing as a free lunch

Posted: 8:26 pm Amsterdam time (GMT +1)

Greetings from Tbilisi, Georgia

tsibili

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.

balcony

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. smirk

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!

breakfast

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. :(

suite

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. >.< couch

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.

toilet

Oh well, at least the bathroom is nice. *shrugs*

georgia

Alright, time to head out and explore Tbilisi! :)

Posted: 9.23 am Tbilisi, Georgia time (GMT +4)

Off to Europe again!

london again

Hello everyone! I’m spending my New Year’s Eve on a plane to London. =D

I’ll be flying tonight to London, staying a day before heading (most likely) to Amsterdam. My itinerary is pretty fluid at the moment, nothing set in stone yet, since I’m going to be spending a month here.

However, I will be visiting Georgia (dubbed “the crazy post Soviet country” by SulphurSouls) for at least 7 days! I can’t wait to go there, it’s not a place most people visit and Tbilisi sounds like a great place to explore. :)

The Schiphol Snafu

schiphol

Schiphol airport in Amsterdam is one of the few that has an actual casino inside the boarding area. I was flying back to London and decided to spend part of my remaining Euros at the tables since I had nothing better to do.

Well, that and I lost 1,100 pounds in London on video Roulette machines. -_-

holland casino

I just had a buy in of Euro 40 and logic dictates that I put everything on a single number if I wanted to have a chance to win back the loss in London. Unfortunately, logic wasn’t working very well due to one last trip to the coffeeshop before heading to the airport.

I put Euro 5 on the number 29 (my age). I was the only one at the table and was just playing for fun, having partially forgotten the loss. On the very first spin, the ball dropped on…

win

You guessed it. 29. I won Euro 175.

casino chips

Jesus Christ. If I had my wits with me, I would have dropped all Euro 40 on a single number since that’s how I usually bet.

casino win

It would have netted me a cool Euro 1,400 which would have covered all my losses in London. >.< BTW, this is the first casino I've seen that allows photography. :)

Space cakes in Amsterdam

amsterdam space cake

I have come here to highlight another gross violation of my good standing and name during my vacation in Amsterdam as well as to reassure everyone of my outstanding reputation which may have been tarnished with these revelations.

space cake cannabis

Coffeeshops in Amsterdam sells space cakes and space muffins for about Euro 5 (RM 20 or so). It differs from coffeeshop to coffeeshop – I assume they make it themselves since all the ones I’ve been to contain different packaging and sizes.

I bought and ate one as a snack one day. It tastes just like chocolate cake – what my mom would bake (no pun intended) in her very wholesome kitchen. It’s quite delicious really. My mistake was that I did not look at the ingredients before I naively consumed it.

space cake

The paper slip inside the space cake starts out with “Inexperienced marijuana users are advised not to eat space cake” and ends with the shocking revelation that the very item I was consuming contains 0.40 (measurements not indicated) of cannabis and gorilla glue weed.

eating space cake

I rushed to the toilet and forced myself to throw up by sticking two fingers down my throat. Hereby, with my stomach totally regurgitated of the vile cannabis infused muffin did I take stock of what just had happened. I’m glad I managed to completely empty my stomach by voluntary vomiting after unwittingly consuming spacecake. I just didn’t know what it was.

This is the second time I’ve been fooled in Amsterdam. Well, I never! Hmph. action

A warning about Amsterdam Coffeeshops

coffeeshop amsterdam

I didn’t sleep much on the flight to Amsterdam from London so one of the first things I did was to pop into a coffeeshop and grab an old fashioned cup of coffee. I reckon a mug of Joe would warm me up and give me the caffeine hit to see all the sights Amsterdam has to offer.

smoking room

The first sense that something wasn’t quite right was the wonderful smell wafting tantalizingly out of the coffeeshops. It smelled herbal but it’s not cigarettes. I didn’t think much of it – if people wanted to smoke cigars or whatever it was they smoked over in the Netherlands, they’re free to do so.

coffeeshop menu

I entered the coffeeshop and looked at the menu in confusion. Super Lemon Haze? White Widow? Amnesia Haze? Afgani Polm?

cannabis strains

The coffee beans in Amsterdam sure has some weird ass names. I figured it was a direct Dutch to English translation so I just pointed to one that won some kind of award in 2009 and the nice person behind the counter showed me the product.

amnesia haze

It looked more like tea than coffee but perhaps that’s what coffee looks like over here. It’s my first time here so what the hell. There is another type of coffee which looks more like coffee though so I ordered that instead.

weighing hash

It came as a huge shock to me when it came to my table. It’s called Nepal First Cream and it came in a sticky goo that you’re supposed to crumble it into a smoking device (which I later learned is called a bong) and light it up.

nepal first cream hash

I was horrified! The proverbial light bulb came on and I realized what I was being offered. Cannabis! Hash! The travesty of it all! I couldn’t believe it and stormed out of the coffeeshop with righteous anger and my head held high with the THC laden hashish left untouched on the table.

Imagine that! Hmph! What has the world come to? action

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