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Archive for February, 2008

Three Things

Three things i always hear from every flemish from Ghent (pronounced kkk-hentt the dutch way) i speak to:

1. There are 3 languages in Belgium: french, dutch and german
2. Everyone goes to the Graslei when the sun is out.
3. There is a big, free 2-week long party in the summer that is really great

Three answers to questions all flemish ask me:

1. No, we don’t cycle usually in Malaysia except for recreation because it is too hot to do so.
2. Yes, it’s hot the whole year round.
3. I speak three languages – english, malay, chinese and we mix them all up when we talk among ourselves.

Three belgian things that are great:

1. Belgian beer
2. Belgian chocs
3. Belgian waffles

Also, there is this great similiarity in culture where you go and have ‘a drink’ after class or at night, with a few people or with alot.. only instead of deciding which teh/kopi version to order you are split for choices between the many types of beer.. woot
And the bars are quiet enough to talk without having to shout on top of your lungs…….

more to come

maybe i won’t subscribe to internet in my room after all..shall just depend on computer lab and library.. what a perfect antidote to excessive msn.

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just a note to myself

Another quick update… Limited internet access means i need the internet more for research purposes then blogging purposes..anyway just spent the weekend at Maarten’s place in Steenhuffel, a small town 20 minutes drive from Brussels. it was a great weekend. Crazy party. More to come soon, i just want to note down a random thought for further exploration next time before i forget about it.. Right now i’m doing a module on history of urban planning, a subject that frequently crosses borders into sociology and anthropology, and i have to say… what i have prepared for the group discussions so far really strikes a chord with my own personal observations and affirms many things i had made hypotheses about. An example, after Nicholas et al’s first visit to Manchester, they returned and told me many things about it – its apparent vibrancy and liveliness and stuff. when compared to Glasgow. I was really skeptical about that, seeing that Manchester and Glasgow came from the same industrial roots… my own visit (though it was really short and i only saw a fraction of the whole area) was enough to answer some of these questions. I was suddenly reminded of this random fact having just finished a short paper by Friedrich Engels about 19th century Manchester…..

Also, many people tell me they never expected cities like London and Paris to be so dirty and dodgy and generally shady with their reputation of being super big cities. It’s funny, because that sort of knowledge is supposed to be in the SPM syllabus…

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There’s about 9 minutes to my first studio class and i don’t know where the classroom is, and this dutch/belgian keyboard is eternally irritating, so you cqn imagine this update to be short as well because i take ages to type. But; the mistakes are fez and far apart now. Ghent is fine! Ghent is nice! bla bla bla. I’m still homeless, floating from hostel to b&b and back depending on availability. Have been surviving on hostel breakfasts and turkish pizzas and belgian fries for the past 5-6 days. Belgian fries really are good! Belgian beer is better. Belgian chocolqtes lagi better. Ok end of update bye

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Ghent, Belgium

i am in belgium….updates to come1 bye

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Loooong update

I still have many things, on so many issues, on my mind that I’d like to say. I know most reg readers don’t really like to read those kinds of posts (but i don’t really care), and anyway i don’t have the time or inclination recently to just sit down and spend a couple of hours writing, so those will have to wait. (do I hear a collective sigh of relief? =p)

Well then, updates on what i have been up to since the end of semester one. As usual, i lived the typical vampire lifestyle for a couple of days (sleep @ 8/9am and up @ 4/5pm) and soon after that i went to London for a quick trip, mostly because i then would have a little more to chew on when considering about where to do my internship. And also to check out the Belgian visa at the Belgian embassy, but we (conveniently) forgot that part of our itinerary after finding out we can just apply in Brussels after we reach. The whole trip was rather haphazard and impromptu, and we basically just made up our plans as we went.

We did pop by AA for a quick visit to Carrie’s school and to see a presentation by the year 5 students….. and it was what you’d typically expect from an AA presentation (i’ll leave that open to interpretation). There was also an exhibition from one of those neosurrealist artists or whatever they call them nowadays. I don’t see much difference from (those) “real”, old-school surrealists and these supposedly “new” surrealism except for the media. Whatever…

Before the trip was over me and Nicholas took a bus to Manchester to watch Linkin Park at the MEN arena with the QS students in Salford while the others stayed in London and subsequently missed their flight back and had to rent a car (it sounds almost ridiculous, but our extra concert and transport expenses actually ended up being slightly cheaper then the others =p. And, they ended up staying in Manchester for a night anyway). The concert was great even though the location of the seats was terrible (blame it on last minute purchases). The second night will always be remembered as someone managed to perform the great taboo of puking on someone’s dining room carpet (!) and alcohol duels turned to mayonnaise challenges after the booze ran out. (sigh……)

The incredible thing was that i managed to stay 2 nights and 3 days in Manchester total without doing ANY sightseeing other then what we happened to pass by on our way to somewhere or other. Bumming is contagious. Old Trafford………sigh. The trip back was also rather memorable as me and Nicholas experienced eating dimsum with our hands under drizzling rain, outside the bus stop because we didn’t want to take any chances with the punctuality of UK bus departure times …………definitely an experience not to be missed! *rolls eyes*

CNY came and passed, with mixed feelings. All we did was to eat and eat and eat (nothing different here, except we were the ones doing all the fancy cooking- with much success, i would say), and Nicholas worked hard to recreate the CNY atmosphere. I wouldn’t have bothered, i just need my prawn crackers and groundnuts and melon seeds and cards and mahjong and beer and recycled soppy love movies on TV that I’ll watch anyway regardless being able to predict every plot twist. Unfortunately, the only thing from the above list i can get easily and cheaply is the beer and cards. (dried shittake mushrooms 7 pounds a small pack, oh dear oh dear……………..) We bought the groundnuts and the kuaci anyway.Thank god we’re architecture students and thus are filled with boundless creativity (ha ha) to generate our own CNY entertainment.

That’s about it – the past 3 weeks. There originally was also planned trips to Dundee and Aberdeen and Inverness, but Ashwin and the RGU guys said they were busy that particular weekend so the whole plan fell apart and all i did was to sit on a train for 45 minutes and then a bus for 6 minutes to a small village called Gartochan and climbed Duncryne Hill one gloomy and muddy tuesday and looked at a postcard view of Loch Lomond because i was too lazy to explore the banks since it was so cold. The problem with all this great views from tops of mountains is that since there is a nice view at every degree you could possibly turn to i find it almost impossible to compose really nice photos. Well, there’s a billion munros and bens and corbetts and donalds and mounts and laws and pens and braes and paps (they all just mean mountains, them fussy Scots) here i can climb to practice on until i can get better……

Belgium is next!!

Pictures will be in the next post. (hopefully)

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