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Published: October 12th 2012
<strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Amsterdam
On Wednesday the 4th
, we went to Amsterdam. We caught the metro to Gare du Nord (even though we walked most of the way there!) and navigated the chaos to get onto our train to Amsterdam. It was half an hour late departing so I was hoping that the strike was done and dusted. Anyway, we got to Amsterdam, and after walking out the wrong exit, we were greeted my cousin Biab her husband Douwe. I stayed in Amsterdam with Biab and Douwe for 3 months in 2003. Seems longer than that, but 9 years is a long time! So we went to their place in Zaandam, and were out up in the same room I stayed in all those years ago. Biab is one of my many cousins from Thailand, and she has now been in Holland for 15 years. After some relaxation, we went out for a night on the town (sans Douwe). Biab showed us the red light district (all girls, all races and shapes and sizes to suits one’s tastes!) and the shopping district. We also stopped off for a drink and dinner. After an ok-ish Argentinian grill dinner, we set off to another part of town to have drinks and a bit of a dance.
The next day, we lazed around a bit then went to Volendam, to get photos taken in traditional Dutch clothes (like I did 9 years ago!). Did some shopping and had some lunch, then we went home. We were going to meet my other cousin Penny in Amsterdam, but since she was tired after work, she came over for dinner and drinks (well we drank not her lol). It was really nice to see her; she came to Australia 2 years ago with her friend Anna.
The next day (Saturday) Bill and I caught the train into Amsterdam to meet up with Penny and her boyfriend Twan We walked through the streets to the Anne Frank house to meet up with Anna who was at the front of the queue (that’s for all the times people jump in front of us in the passport queue!). This irate American got up us, and Anna got up him right back! So we went through the house – I had been there in 2003 but really couldn’t remember much only the tiny ladder to go up to the attic (which was closed off). Back then, I hadn’t read her diary so really couldn’t put it into context (even though I knew what had happened). Afterwards, we bought tickets to go on a canal cruise, and had a late lunch. Penny and Anna, and for that matter Twan, would not let us pay for ANYTHING. Which made us feel bad – ok in Australia we wouldn’t let Anna and Penny pay for anything either, but still is felt bad! We went on a lovely canal cruise. What I am still amazed by (and I forgot to pre-warn Bill so he nearly got run over a few times) was the sheer volume of bicycles. EVERYONE rides a bike; there must be more bikes than people in Amsterdam and more in the canals too! It’s brilliant because it’s impossible to drive in the city centre so everyone bikes (even all around Holland too). Also, in Europe you don’t have to wear helmets so of course it makes biking easier. After the canal cruise, we went to a shisha bar for a shisha (for me) and drinks. Anna left us for a little while, and then we went to a sushi bar later for dinner where she met up with us. Then they walked us to the station, where we hopped on a train to Zaandam.
The next day, we set off for Amsterdam again, where we met up with Penny at Dam square and did some hard-earned shopping! After a bite of lunch, she hopped on her bike to go home, and we continued to do some shopping (well I did) then we went to Centraal station to get on a train to Zaandam. So back at Biab’s, we got ready to go out that night. Bill was still sick, so me and Biab went out to see ladyboys at the Thai bar. We stopped for dinner at a Thai restaurant where my cousin King (Penny’s brother) works. Now I hadn’t met King before, only when I was young in Thailand I assume, but I was too young to remember. We had some yummy gway-teaw and set off for the Mekong bar. No ladyboys Sunday was very quiet! So after a few drinks and chat to the bar girl (who was Thai of course, and bared a striking resemblance to one of our cousins back in Bangkok) we went to a Chinese karaoke bar for another drink, then to another bar for another drink and dance……then to another bar for a dance (Paleis Van Dyke, I wonder if it’s Paul Van Dyke’s bar by any chance? Or is he German?) Anyway had heeeaps of fun and yes a few guys tried to dance with me (well if Bill stays home sick that’s what’s gonna happen lol). We got home at 2.30am….yea but had lots of fun!!
The next day, after a huuuge sleep in, we got ready to go to aunty Punnee’s house at Lelystad. Before we went to Lelystad, we went to Zannse Schans, where we saw windmills and cute houses and cheese and clogs museums (oh my!) and got cheesy photos taken in clogs. It was heaps of fun, and I’m really glad we went cos last time, I lost my camera at the beginning of my trip in a bar (stolen) and it had my Zannse Schans photos, so really glad I went there again and got more! So, and hour drive later and we arrived to Aunty Punnee’s house. Ok, perhaps I should explain my family tree. So, Biab is my cousin, Aunty Punee is my mum’s cousin (fgrom Thailand too of course) and she settled in Holland after Penny was born as Penny’s father is Dutch. And King is aunty Punee’s son….simple family tree? Yes I think so.
We had a lovely night, King and his girlfriend came over, we ate and drank. Lots of Thai food, loots of wine, then Penny came over with Twan and her friend Saana (whom I met last time I was in Amsterdam). We had a really, really nice time, aunty Pun didn’t eat she was just being the merry hostess. Had lots of laughs, now I can’t speak Thai but I can understand, especially the dialect from our region, Khorat. So that provided many laughs when I could understand what Biab and all were saying and deciphering Dutch. LOL.
The next day, we went into Lelystad and had a look and a shop around. Aunty Pun cooked some Gway Teuw and it was DELICIOUS!! After that, we said our goodbyes and went home to Zaandam. Now we were going to cook, but considering we had late lunch, we didn’t. We had a few drinks (Biab’s yummy Mojitos) and went to bed. The next day, Biab took us to the airport to our flight to Milan. After we said our goodbyes, it was welcome to the Dutch security screening which rivals Greek airport control! It took soo long to go through security and they were meticulous in searching and re-searching bags…but in no particular order so we stood there for aaages before they re-checked Bill’s bags!
We had so much fun in Amsterdam. Yes all tourists think of Amsterdam is sex and drugs, and really it's not like that at all. yes small amounts of soft drugs are legalised, and there is a sex industry (but it's clean and well run so you dont feel unsafe walking in the red light district). I have stayed in Amsterdam for 3 months previously, and for the short trip now, never had the desire to try drugs. some locals and tourists walk around smoking joints but i have never once seen someone shooting up heroin or anything.
Amsterdam is great, i love it and i really miss Biab and the rest of the family now.
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