Thursday, June 24, 2010

More Holland, South America Plans, You Know, The Usual

So it’s been about a week since I posted anything, and given the swings experienced when adjusting to a totally new culture, a week is a fairly long time to go between posts, so here we go:

Where we left off from last time, I was struggling a bit to adjust to things in The Netherlands, and longing for HK. I’m glad to report that since then things have changed significantly, most of that change taking place in the last 48 hours or so. That being said, let’s backtrack to right after my last blog post:

Last week was fairly uneventful. Henning was out of the office for a few days, and I just sort of did my own thing at work. The work week was rather long, but I learned a fair bit more about the industry, key customers, the setup of the company, etc. Last weekend was also the planned “970X run”, i.e. go to a major public transport hub and try and catch the next mode of transport to somewhere. Anyway, so the plan was to take off Friday and go somewhere, but Henning preferred that I did not take off Friday, given that I took off a few days a couple weeks ago to head down to Italy to meet with the family.

Perfectly understandable, so Friday night I decided to head to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and attempt, knowing that it was a long shot, to just ask a KLM ticket agent if there were any not-full flights departing that evening that I could possibly fly out on for a discounted fare, given that odds are, if the flight isn’t full 2 hours before takeoff, it won’t be full. Given that Europe is the “land of high prices and unfriendly people”, they would have none of that, so I got nowhere fast from Schiphol. From there, I headed onward, relatively undeterred, to Amsterdam Centraal rail station, assuming that there’d have to be a train going somewhere Friday evening. Upon arrival, the international ticket office was closed for the night. Massively deterred, I tried walking to Amstel St. Bus Terminal, which I only knew to be “about 2km South of Centraal Station”. So naturally, having no real idea of where I was going, I just walked in a direction I knew to be South. Thankfully, Amsterdam is not a maze of a city, otherwise I might not have found Amstel St. Station. That was sarcasm. I absolutely didn’t have a chance at finding the place, by this time it was about 10:00pm, and I really didn’t feel ambitious enough to hunt down the station. Had it been HK I’d’ve taken a cab, but in Holland (or anywhere in the west), cabs aren’t retardedly cheap, so I just went back to The Hague Friday evening.

Upon waking up Saturday morning I saw that Marije (a friend of mine that I knew in Hong Kong that is Dutch, and lives in Amsterdam) had attempted to contact me via facebook regarding my plans for the big Netherlands-Japan World Cup match Saturday afternoon. I got a hold of her and she told me to come to Amsterdam to watch the match with some friends of hers in some random bar. I certainly couldn’t turn down such an invitation, especially given that I hadn’t seen Marije in like a month, so I took the train back into Amsterdam Saturday morning and met up with her and her boyfriend, Juriann at AMS Centraal. From there we went to drop off some things at their friend’s apartment, and I was able to see how Dutch students live. Not too surprisingly, it was a pretty standard, American-ish apartment. The one thing that would have looked very out of place in an American apartment was a huge soccer trophy, but that’s about it. And all the orange stuff all around. Speaking of orange, Steve Guilford (Stinen Guildford to those who know him well) would have loved the match. The bar we went to had about 60-70 people fit into a place that was about big enough for 40, and every single person there was wearing orange everything. Bright. San Francisco Giants style. Orange. Everywhere. Holland scored early in the 2nd half, and my God, did the place go absolutely nuts. Absolute pandemonium, the likes of which I can basically only compare to like, maybe the pandemonium I experienced when LSU blocked an Alabama field goal at the end of regulation to force overtime at a game I was at in 2008. But even that might be pushing it. Anyway, so that was electrifying, and Holland ended up winning 1-0. After the match we went and walked around Amsterdam for awhile, with Marije and Juriann pointing out interesting sights. I also bought a Dutch sim card for when my old European phone from last summer arrives in the mail from the parentals. With said sim card came a free orange vuvuzela in celebration of the world cup. Welcome to Holland (or Europe, for that matter) during the world’s biggest sporting event. So now that the random tangent about vuvuzelas is over, back to Saturday. After hanging around for a bit I headed back to The Hague Saturday evening and watched more World Cup.

Sunday involved some (shocker) World Cup watching, bike riding (found a very decent little Japanese restaurant in downtown Wassenaar), and talking to the Old AlanKey via Skype on his cell phone. I didn’t even know that was possible, but apparently AlanKey is able to talk into his cell phone as though he’s making a call, but have me be on the other end on Skype. What an age we live in, and to think, S.E.S. World Skies is (maybe) involved in the transmission of that info, given our involvement in everything (including World Cup broadcasting to North and South America). AlanKey was in central Hong Kong, and the sounds of the city could easily be heard in the background, making me a bit nostalgic for the old place.

Also Skyped Madlien for a bit in the evening to further discuss the possible trip to Bogota. It is looking decently likely that Blaine Curcio will be making his first appearance in South America sometime in August, an event that will surely be met with fiestas, siestas, and other “estas” immediately upon my arrival. So yeah, again, the plan would then be to arrive at O’Hare at 3:15pm on a flight straight from Dublin and leave for a flight to Miami at 6:55pm same day, have an 11 hour connection in Miami, then get to Bogota the next day, on the verge of mental and physical collapse from having travelled for something like 40 hours. However, if nothing else, I had decent training for this sort of thing on December 26, 2009, when Dan and I missed a connection in Minneapolis due to snow and ended up doing Chicago-Minneapolis (4 hour layover)-Amsterdam (10 hour flight followed by 11 hour layover)-Tokyo (10 hour flight)-Aiko Ichida (3 hour train ride). So if I can handle that (and, for the record, I felt great upon arrival in Tokyo), I can certainly handle Amsterdam-Dublin (3 hour layover)-Chicago (9 hour flight 4 hour layover)-Miami (11 hour layover)-Bogota (probably about a 6 hour flight). Now that all 3 readers are spinning from too many flights and cities and layovers and such…

This week was a good one at work. Monday and Tuesday were pretty standard, and Wednesday morning I decided that I ought to catch up with Henning on my work thus far, and on a gameplan for the last 7 weeks of the internship. The conversation went very well, with Henning and I exchanging some very interesting ideas and insights.

After that I worked out with H.R. my tax rate and other such things for my pay for this internship. Basically because I’m not making enough money to live off of, I pay very low taxes, as it turns out. That’s a win, that. I also am considering pulling the old tax fraud when I get home and not reporting my meager income here to the I.R.S., given that I can’t be bothered doing that, and they won’t find out about a few thousand US$ that I made here… hopefully. So yeah, good week at work overall.

Also, last night I figured out how to order pizza for delivery despite the fact that the whole website was in Dutch... I thought it was a decent accomplishment, at the very least.

This weekend the plan is to really explore The Hague on Saturday. I’d like to visit the place where Milosevic was tried and jailed and died. Given that it’s literally right across the street from my office, I figure I should go sometime… Friday night is the company summer beach party, which goes from like 2:00pm-late and includes, but is not limited to, volleyball, limbo, samba, Dutch people, food, beverages, napkins, and sand. Word is there’s going to be a beach there as well. Sunday I’ll likely go to Henning’s, as he and his wife are having some people over to watch England vs. Germany in the World Cup round of 16. The weekend after next, Iain McMahon, the man, the legend, the Aussie, will be in Amsterdam, so I’ll be going to visit and hang out with him and, presumably, Marije as well. That’s more or less all at the moment. It’s crazy to think that next week is already July, and that I’ve now (having just realized it) been here for a month. Time flies when you’re having fun… or working 50 hours a week.

To those who have read this far, a big thank you, and I hope that you enjoyed the hyperlinks I decided to put in, some obviously being quirkier and less useful than others, but all being lovingly placed for your reading enjoyment and enhancement. If you’re reading this then you’d probably be characterized in the statement “I miss you all!”

More news to come as it develops.

1 comment:

  1. Love your blog! Im glad you liked it last Saturday! And well done on your Dutch pizza ordering! Can you already give me your Dutch number?