throughthelookingglass
about
To be honest there is nothing much about me worth knowing. I live in an island, enjoys being a photographer at times and dance like no one else business. Thats all. I can't think what to write for now so it just stays like this. Welcome to the little life of mine and lets try not to get utterly bored, shall we?

archives


We're all mad here


ok im too tired to continue with Vienna and Munich and Bremen
Friday, February 27, 2015 @ 2/27/2015 02:23:00 AM

So many things has happened and yet nothing has changed.

***

My room in Goteburg, Sweden is still not in living conditions but I have grown to love it and in some ways, made it mine. It is bigger and definitely a whole lot nicer than what I had in PGP so this is certainly one of the few major factors which contributes to my current contentment.

Otherwise, there is no Wifi, no heater and not enough lights. Whenever I shower, a mini flooding ensues. I've learned to cope without Wifi (steal others at least for now + LAN cable) and has adopted the Swedish lifestyle of lighting up artisan candles. That's right, I've got dark green and bright pink candlesticks.

With a bigger room now, I am able to make a bigger mess.

***

I am simultaneously impressed, repulsed and frightened by my own ability to make friends. Impressed because I always found myself to be a bit of an introvert and yet for the first time, I can safely say that I have never stayed in my room longer than 24 hours for more than 10 days. This means that for the 42 days since I've been here, I attended some kind of social function/activity in one way or another for roughly 32 days. Travelling, partying, going out for brunch, shopping, drinking...

this is pretty disorientating.

Repulsed because I am wondering what is wrong with me. I feel like I have no sense of self and that being able to blend in with so many different groups of people makes me question my morals and in general, my identity as Allison Goh Ying Li. HAHAHA maybe it'st just my usual neurotic self over analyzing shit again but the person that hangs out with the HK international students and the person that hangs out with HG club is completely different. And don't even get me started on my course mates and the Singaporean exchanges students.

Lastly, there is always the fear of being exposed as a fraud should all my friends ever meet together.

***

So many things has happened and yet nothing has changed.
I am still facing the same problems I faced in Singapore. Mess, identity crisis, getting my priorities straight, eating properly, body issues and working. Hundred miles away from home and my troubles follow me all the way.

***
14/2:

Bremen>>Berlin

miraculously sunny day outside McDonalds.

We touched down on a miraculously sunny day. Such blessings however, did not extend itself to luck with transport system. German efficiency appears to be a myth. The bus from Bremen airport to the central station did not arrive on its stipulated time. In fact, it did not arrived at all. Time was ticking. We had a bus to catch to Berlin. A man, mid forties with shaggy hair and matching maroon leather jacket and jeans came up towards us. "Can I have one ?" He asked and pointed to a pack of cigarette on K's hands. It was not a German accent. We relent, I lit up his cigarette. He finished it in three minutes and then offered to share a cab. Time was ticking. We agreed hastily; our bus to Berlin was arriving in ten minutes.

The taxi driver was confused. "You know there is a bus right?" Our explanations were curt and he did not seem to have understood our reasoning but one does not say no to a paying customer. Or at least, three paying customers.

Taxi drivers in Germany drive Mercedes Benz (he nicknamed the wheel the Iron Ring for its superb engineering) and wore tuxedos.

Once inside, we found out that he too, was not a German. He came from Syria in the 90s for a better life. We made small talk among ourselves; two Singaporeans, the man in leather and a cab driver that barely understood English.

The moment we had boarded onto the bus, it started to leave. I do not want to think what might have happened if we arrived any second later. I slept poorly in the four hour long ride to Berlin and we arrived at the Generator Hostel at night. The cold was biting but not as bad in Goteburg. There was laughter coming in from our room 524. "Damn it! Fuck means must interact. How do I look?" said K. Standing outside the door, we tried to press our hair down and look presentable after an 8 hour long journey. It took sometime before we found our voices.

There were two blondes talking animatedly to a man in his early fifties. A teenager plopped herself idly on the top bunk of the beds, listening to the conversation, occasionally speaking in German to the man himself. It was 10pm. The two blondes were giggling and clutching onto two bottles of $3 euro wine. I asked them about their plans for the night. It was, after all, Valentine's Day. I found out they were both Harry Potter fans and I liked them immediately right after that. We talked about potential houses if we ever got sorted into Hogwarts.

Like myself, they were engineering students on exchange in London, from New Zealand and the States. I also figured out much later that the pair of Germans were father and daughter. The dad was a DJ mixing in one of the clubs at 3am that. There were heaps of vinyl records scattered all over his bed and on the floor. He claims that he is the real deal, unlike DJs that used digital Mac books and recordings. I learnt a lot more about mixing music after that. He invited the girls to watch.

K&I washed up. We left at 11pm to the pub street of Berlin.At 1130pm, everyone was holding onto a bottle of beer as if it was Starbucks, entering the trains or simply walking around in public spaces. Nightcrawlers streamed out of the tunnels and onto the passageways. I remembered seeing hordes of women with their faces painted and men with multiple piercings. Loud conversations in German got louder as people drank more beer.

K got swamped by two men outside a club. Pickpockets that refused to give up. I walked faster as they begun to circulate around us like sharks marking its prey. I did not recognize fear at that time for I was too stoned and cold but looking back, without the danger the atmosphere would not have been as electrifying. They grabbed K. I felt helpless. He finally managed to shake them off after a while. We continued walking.

"You wanna smoke?" A black man came in front of us.

"Keep walking Allie, that's fucking weed," K whispered. I shrug. I didn't really smell anything. It was 1am. We found a nice roadstall selling street food. I tasted the best sausages from there. Currywurst and beer. A ruckus was happening right next to us. A group of drunk German guys were picking up fights with random strangers.

"You're my good friend"
"No I hate you! Fuck you!"

Raucous laughter and swear words sliced the thin cool air. My hands felt numb from being exposed as a result of holding onto chilled beer. People continued eating, pretending they heard nothing but I could tell that a lady, whose table stood closest to the drunkards, was shifting away uncomfortably. The shopkeeper threw me a pained expression. He couldn't chased the German boys away since they brought food from him yet at the same time, they clearly prevented more customers from coming closer. The guys proceed to disrupt a group of girls inside a Photoautomat station. One of the German girl was clearly frightened to tears.

"Stop it! I'm serious ok! Stop it. It's not funny," her friend pluck up enough courage to stand up against their perpetrators. She grabbed her friend's arm and marched off. Perhaps it was the effect of my first taste of beer in Germany, but I could hear my head buzzing and it soon dawned to me that with lesser people around now, there was a good chance we could be their next targets. I did not want to give them that opportunity. Dragging K away, we left and returned at 3am back to the hostel.

The lights were on but nobody was inside.

15/2

Berlin

I woke up at 9am to the sound of the DJ father snores reverberating behind me. He had a Margarita red shirt on with stripes of black and beige color all over it. He did not have any pants on. There was an open bag of chips right next to his sleeping face. Our Sandeman walking tour was about to began at 11am. The acid from last night's beer made a strange sound in my stomach. K showered while I simply baby wiped myself. We left at 1030am to Bradenburgs Gate but got lost. K felt really mad at the unhelpful bus driver and wanted to abandon the tour altogether. I persisted and argued that the group was probably somewhere around the iconic gate. The lack of food puts K in a foul mood. I was too used to being hungry so I felt nothing but trudged forward.

We found Italian, Spanish and godknowswhatlanguage tours before finally spotting ours in English at the very last moment. Our guide is incredibly good looking. He has shaved his head on one side and wore a stylish black Hugo Boss jacket. Go figure. Mark Curtis from UK. All in all, the Berlin walking tour was the best one by far (as compared to the others in Munich and Prague) plus, the tour guide really set the standards very high considering it was also the first walking tour I had.

the good looking guide with a sexy British accent and the red tag.




We covered the Bradenburg Gate and I appreciated the jokes he made about the French. My interpretation of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is that it is representative of a large graveyard from afar but as you enter and walk inside, it gives off an effect of personal hell and becomes one whole of a coffin that encloses the individual, leaving little breathing space for the individual. I guess this can be associated with what the Jews must have felt when their rights were violated. The cold hard concrete slabs felt symbolic of a cruel bureaucratic authority that organized systematic violence to the people and the uneven floor creates the idea of one getting further and trapped inside a labyrinth to the point of no return.

street between West and East Germany



Hitler's bunk
I found it really amusing that Hitler's bunk currently exists as a carpark. The irony is not lost. Checkpoint Charlie, West/East divide, the death strip and previous SS Headquarters. Mark finally concluded the tour on an optimistic note about the links between history and mankind outside the Humboldt University.

We spent a good fifteen minutes walking around on our own before booking an entrance to the Riechstag Building 8pm in the night. With a Sunday afternoon to kill, MauerPark was the perfect spot to go. We walked around till 6pm and K was pleased with a green army parka he brought from the flea. I had to stopped myself from buying useless stuff. There isnt any photos because I was too engrossed in looking.

going up the Riechstag building with armed personnel. I love how the security lady doesnt give a fuck that we are taking silly selfies inside a very serious building. She's like Asians do weird stuff and we're like (or I'm like) merkel here i come!



8pm. I was pretty convinced I would see Angela Merkel in the building. Part of me was hoping there would be some sort of emergency meeting regarding the Euro or something of that sorts that will allow me to see her in real life. Obviously I was setting myself up for disappointment. Nonetheless, any time spend inside the work of Norman Foster is always a good time. According to the architect, the dome shaped building was made of glass to reflect government transparency and as people walked up above to the viewing gallery, policymakers are situated below. The rationale being that people are always above the government and they should they ever forget who they served, they only had to look up. The building was designed in such a manner with spiral steps all the way to the top for tourists to enter.

Bradenburg Gate at night after our Reichstag tour. K got dunkin donughts.

1130pm we went back at night to the Photoautomat booth ourselves again to take photos. I felt like I was having my own Amelie moment and because there were lesser people on a Sunday night, we had the whole place for ourselves. Photoautomat is a relic of the pre Instagram age. Each film takes a whole five minutes to develop and now, I know what you are thiking. What is 5mins isn't that pretty instantaneous? Well, if you ever waited out in the cold for five minutes (15 in total we took three times) you will realize that five minutes  is a bloody long time to wait for a film strip of your face. We are so used to simply snapping and deleting stuff on our handheld camera aka the smartphone aka the thing we cannot live without that the experience I had with the Photoautomat feels insanely up close and personal for an old beat up machine.


By the time we finally went back to our hostel, it was 2am again. I was writing postcards in a semi-conscious state while K did his graded essay. We slept at 3am. It was also the last night we slept on proper beds. 

16/2

Berlin 

Waking up at 9am to shower, I realized that Shimin's warning about the communal toilet was not a problem at all. After surviving Cambodia, I daresay I have a more liberal perspective on nudity now (not that i was ever squirmish about naked bodies) and the exposure of my own body (this I admit is still a problem). Stepping outside of the cubicle, I scrubbed myself like crazy with the knowledge that I probably will not bath again for remaining 6 days. We checked out at 1010am and wandered around before heading to East Side Gallery where the now famous remains of the historic Berlin Wall stands.

In between the area previously known as the "death strip" separating the two walls whereby guards will shoot anyone found lying within the barriers.

There is so many parts I enjoyed about my less than 3 day trip in Berlin. Graffti art is probably one of the them. I feel like they were speaking to me in an unknown language, quietly around the alleys, a right turn, upstairs, a wall...BAM! Creeping up onto me when I least expected it. The quiet meticulous dedication of these artists is a sharp contrast to the loud explosive spontaneity expressed in their art work. Berlin, Germany if anything is designed in a strange perplexing manner, a mix of the old and the new, past and present and with graffti art all around, it is like sinewy veins that holds the entire body system together, functioning as a whole through the sum of parts. The place is not complete without the occasional squiggle by the sidewalk or a signature of someone, voiceless, nameless but not silenced. 

how the graffiti artists got to the top to spray I have no idea. 



The above graffiti are taken across random places in Berlin as opposed to the ones on East Side Gallery,  I felt a stronger vibe from them. Compare them to the ones below, dont you think they appear to rigid for street art? Too calculated, too well-planned and thought through?



Can you see me? I hear you. I hear you. I hear you. Graffiti art.The beat of Berlin's heart. They cry out to everyone and no one.

After that it was 3pm and we simply went Primark and call it a day. I spent a whooping 81 euro :( there and I blame K. He wanted to shop but did not buy much. I cannot remember what happened later on but we boarded the bus at 1020pm to Prague. It was the first night bus I took so I had no expectations at all. It turned out pretty ok except there were plenty of stops so the lights kept turning on but the availability of Wifi is a major pro. Or at least that was what I felt. No wait!

Let me back track a little. It was not 3pm when we went Primark! We actually went to the History Museum in Berlin before that. Did some stuff which I am not proud of. So dont ask dont tell.



17/2

Prague. 345am. We were dropped off like a sad sack of potatoes in a middle of nowhere. Imagine being rudely awaken from a warm albeit slightly uncomfortable sleeping position (but it is warm and honestly that's all it fucking matters) and thrust to a godforsaken place with no human beings at sight and no sign of a 24hour cafe. The concept of a 24hr place is foreign to these Europeans. I was cold, thirsty, very cold, cranky, confused, suffering from night blindness while struggling the urge to pee. The wind was terrifying to behold and shrouded in darkness, the entire atmosphere around our bus stop felt sinister. Plus, there was fog so it really felt like a waking nightmare about to begin. We were walking victims for crime.

But there was no choice. Fattening myself up with layers of clothes (I ripped off the tags off my Primark goods and wore it immediately) and wrapping myself up with the yellow scarf, there began our journey in Prague. 4am. We walk and walk and walk. With no destination in mind and with no command of the Czech language ( I figured out that bit a little later) we wandered around the empty streets combing for any bit of shelter or warmth like vermin of society. K was whiny to bits. Every shop was closed. McDonalds only open at 6.

Finally, we settled on the basement of a hotel. There was a heater and it was everything I could hope for. K only did so reluctantly. His pride did not allow him to be so at ease on a private property while I honestly did not give a damn. Plopping myself down, I soon sat down and made myself comfortable, eating leftovers pastry from Berlin while K stood for a good 10 minutes before finally relenting.
Happy Hobo. Who was I kidding. honestly look, we were in the middle of an entrance of a motel/hotel. there was no place to go. homeless and tired and scared.
He kept insisting that we were not "hobos" although I do not see anything wrong with that term. 440am. The hotel security guard finally came up to chase us away. K reflected about how it was important for us to use good English when speaking to him so that he knew that we weren't poor honestly, that was the last thing which bothered me because I felt like if we played the sympathy card and he allowed us to stay idgaf about my image. 

i just happen to take this photo even in my warmth and sleep deprived because i was still amazed by the effort of street artist to spray paint the escalator. i mean think about it. They have to do it really fast and honestly its rather ingenious dont you think? 
 530am. Wandering around, the gates of the terminal finally opened! By then, with only four hours of poor sleep, I felt like it was heaven. It wasn't a good resting place because there were NO HEATER and we were only confined to a small area out of the entire platform. Well, it was better than aimlessly walking outside the cold. There were plastic chairs and there is a shelter. We sat there in a daze (from our good luck or out of fatigue i do not know) for 40mins  before realizing that we have to exchange Euro for Czech Krona.

"Let's just spend $25 euro each here ok?"

Having burst my budget for Berlin, the least I could do was to recalibrate my expenses for Prague. For the 19 hours I had in Prague, I can safely say that I did :D.

630am. The sun was barely rising over the National Museum and the dream began. I say "dream" because I really felt like I was in a dreamlike trance when I was in Prague. Partly because of the lack of proper sleep. Accordion music, birds, pastels hued buildings. I am going to break away from my structured narrative of linear events and just randomly talk from the photos. Unlike in Berlin when I was so aware of time and purpose, entering Prague was like entering a new world where time stood still and people simply moved like they did in an old Hollywood movie.

first thing I saw was the National Museum. the sun was barely rising over it was a fantastic view of a superb Gothic(?) architecture.
 
walking down the streets with nothing to do. nothing is open at 7am. 

perfectly preserved old school buildings, i felt like alice in wonderland. some people were beginning to appear and they are completely immune to the beauty of their buildings. i guess this must be how we feel towards HDB?


Magnificent! The sun is up although the streets is clearly still empty..
  

this was our only "proper" meal of the entire trip. Traditional Czech food. I had Rabbit meat. It was for dinner later on at 730pm... however, after eating I felt like I was slowly waking up from the Prague dream and began to feel irritated and cranky again. but thankfully it was only after a good period of time.  

in the morning when there was no one in the elevator which was sooo deep into the tunnel...


this was in the afternoon after our tour and we were making our way up to the Prague Castle...i found a indie bookshop with one of the most grumpy bookstore owner i've ever met. He was so grouchy but he really knows his shit. Brought postcards and tried to find Kundera memorabilia which was impossible cos Kafka got all the attention. 

Outside a Sex Museum. Yes, sitting on the chair shows your sex-o-meter. K tried it on while I was too tired and grumpy. It was probably after or before dinner but its definitely in the evening. Being in Prague from dawn till dusk really feels like the perfect LOMO fied sequence of events at least until the sun is gone and your legs hurt and you realize the cold is coming back again. 

candy shop



Rabbit meat actually taste like chicken but the sauce and the potato dumplings are really good! Im not a fan of potatoes but these were good. 

waiting around before our tour starts and taking picture outside the Old Town Square. I have a joke about these buildings so here it goes...
100 years ago:
Architect A says to Architect B, "my buildings are perfect." B says to A, "mine too" and then comes Architect C "my work of the Church of our Lady before Tyn is flawed. one is slightly out of proportion to the other" A&B laughs at C. Today, C's flawed building is famous. A&B perfect buildings blends in with the other perfect buildings into normalcy.
ok its not a funny joke but you get it. 

I know about David Cerny and the vagina hooha i read it on news. So now to see his other sculpture first hand is :D say hello to Rebirth.


By  the time we climb up the hill, we were greeted with the magnificent St Vitus Cathedral. 


K was dead beat by then. I was amazed I felt so energetic. It was 3pm and I think the Cambodia training really kicked in for I was bouncing around the castle like a princess looking for her prince. K was just being an ass being tired and moody.
My fellow guards behind me.


The castle. 





The view form the top of the castle. 

yes, its a Kafka cafe. Can things get anymore Kafkaquese?


because we witnessed the sun rise in Prague and hit the streets before 8am, we had to excess time to chill and people watched in a cafe from 9 till 1030 while waiting for our tour to start. Of course, we pumped ourselves with caffeine as well. That's when i figured out some basic Czech language and it is so darn hard to learn! nothing like english at all. 


Random pretty girl i saw on the road and snapped a photo of her ootd. Love her pink coat and bag and bike and beanie. 

Frank Kafka wrote in German but came from Czech. Grew up in Prague. 

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