From Stockholm to St. Petersburg

Been on the move continuously for the past 28 hours or so – ferry for 16 hours, followed by another 12 on the road… A little ragged and raw, but all better now after a rest day in St. Petersburg… Not much to write since I spent most of the day exploring this historical city by foot, so I will let the photos do the talking… Been thinking about what to write about the whole Anwar fiasco, but I’ll save that for the road tomorrow… St. Pete to Moscow is going to be a killer stretch – 18 hours if we’re lucky… πŸ˜›

– Welcome to Sweden

– Wild poppies on the roadside in Sweden

– Favourite chocolate in the form of ice-cream!

– I think we found the upper one…

– Midnight sun on the Baltic Sea.

– On the main inner deck of the Silja Symphony

– On the upper decks! Cold!!

– St. Petersburg at night

– On the Neva River, St. Petersburg.

– Bronze sculpture on the riverbanks of Neva.

– Church of Christ Resurrection… Very candy-like… Yumm!!

– At the statue of Peter the Great himself, self-portrait.

– More Mackers, for lunch!!

Till Moscow – Jasmine.

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From Hamburg to Copenhagen

First day on the road today, and it’s quite an eye-opening experience driving on the autobahn. There is only a minimum speed limit, and no upper speed limit. So go as fast as you like, but make sure it’s at least 120 km/h.

Drove for a little bit today, but the weather is getting me down a little bit – too hot in the sun, too cold in the shade, too uncomfortable in between… Just need some time to adjust to the dry European weather, I guess. As usual, the nosebleeds are back with a vengeance, and there’s not enough space in the car for all our shite put together… Too much things, as usual!! So, our photographer has temporarily shifted out into the handler’s car (yup, stinky dude)… Since he will be with the group till the end of the trip, possibly the photographer also stays there for good… We won’t know till the days pile up…

I’m getting tired, and cranky, and missing home. We only have one day in Denmark, and tomorrow we’re already moving into Sweden, but the thing is the shops here only accept Danish kroners and not Euros. To change money for the sake of buying a drink is just too much for me lah… Especially because tomorrow the money is as good as peanuts πŸ˜› So today, I remain hungry and thirsty, and will start raiding into the food stores of the car…

I really really miss home. And I miss you to the point of going crazy! I even miss your snoring at night, and your gorgeous smile and your kisses (you know who you are). And I miss my new housemate who lives across the hall. And I miss my monkeys and the cats and the shower and the bed and the TV and the food and the fridge and the cold water and ice and shoes and sandals… Did I mention I left my sandals at home? Now I only have two options – sneakers or thongs. A girl’s gotta have her shoes!! So, that is going to be another splurge for me when we hit St. Petersburg (got a day there to look for shoes or sandals).

I know I promised to write about Europe, and all that’s right and wrong with it. Today though, it’s not possible since me brains are quite useless – hungry, tired and jet-lagged all rolled into one. I will let the photos speak for themselves je lah… Will write more when I’m not so bogged down with work and obsessed about eating and drinking, and scheming how to get home pronto!!


More tomorrow, have more time in Stockholm – another insanely expensive European city… And I promise I’m going to find Swedish meatballs!!

Miss you miss you miss you miss you miss you miss you more than I can describe – Jasmine.

From Amsterdam to Hamburg

I’ve always wondered when I was a kid, if hamburgers were made out of people who live in Hamburg… Somehow it didn’t make sense that way… I figured maybe hamburgers were invented in Hamburg, then it could also be named so, ehh?

Today, my childish thoughts will finally be put to rest, as I head from Amsterdam to Hamburg. Traveling comfortably in a 40-seater Mercedes coach on the autobahn, I feel incredibly safe although the bus is hurtling along at breakneck speed. I’m guessing it’s going about 180km/h at least, and the bus is a manual one, but the ride is smooth and pleasant. I guess that explains why most of the world’s best drivers come from this region of the world.

It’s somewhat disconcerting initially to see cars behaving as if they’re wishing to commit auto-harakiri. Chayennes, Beamers, VWs, Merces, Fords, and even a fushcia colored Enzo, all driving at insanely high speeds. But traffic is incredibly orderly, and disciplined. No one is tailgating, or behaving like monkeys in general on the roads. There is no border post between Holland and Germany, no tolls to slow you down, and fantastic road conditions make the ride unbelievably pleasant. For the first time ever in my life, I wish I too was able to drive a bus. Think about it, who wouldn’t want to drive a bus at 180 km/h and get away with it? Then again, maybe I wish more that I was driving that soft top baby blue M5 that just overtook us πŸ˜›

Had McDonald’s for lunch – by far the most expensive Mackers meal I’ve ever had, and it certainly did not leave me happy or loving it. Although I thoroughly enjoyed it, the high standards of European living has me gasping for breath, as it’s too expensive for my inflation-busted Ringgit-lined pocket. I would love living here in Europe – everything’s cleaner than a whistle, the weather is great and all that, but only if I was earning a bucket of Euros…

Tonight, we will be catching the semi-final game for Euro 2008 in Hamburg, as Germany battles Turkey for a spot on the final two. Who will win? The favorites seem to be Germany, and since I’ll be catching the game here, I better be supporting Germany too, ehh? (I know kinda out of character for me, usually not a big fan of football, but I can’t help it, I’m surrounded by quite a number of people who believe that mankind’s very existence is tied to the outcome of these games).

My apologies, not very coherent thoughts today, just very jumbled random ideas put down…
Been thinking about writing on the sustainable energy source the EU has been implementing – seeing a lot of those wind turbines ever since we landed here, and a system for harnessing tide power on the dykes, but I suppose that will have to wait till tomorrow. Today, brain is too addled by McChicken to be of any use…

Thinking of home, and wishing I had a bucket of Euros to spend – Jasmine.

ps – They do call it the “Hamburger Royal with Cheese”, and not a “1/4 Pounder”. No kidding.

UPDATE
Found out today that I will no longer be handling the keys and hotel section. It has been taken over by a ‘friendlier’ staff member. I suppose it’s because they, or rather one person in particular has made contingency plans just in case I bail out or more likely, kicked out, and now somehow the contingency plan is already in motion. *sigh* Perhaps I should look at it on the bright side, at least I have less work to do. But then again, I wonder what else is being done to make sure I look quite useless?

Also, the handler for the European sector, otherwise known as stinky dude, still holds grudges. It doesn’t help that I burned this bridge myself sometime ago, and recently found out, that the fires that burned this particular bridge was fanned by none other than beloved ‘someone’. (Won’t mention names, just in case I get sued). And just as before, now this someone is trying their darnest best to make me look like a useless parrot, again…

It will never end, will it? It’s only day -4, for God’s sake!!

From Amsterdam with love…

Here are some pictures of me in Amsterdam, although badly jet-lagged and tired now, the city seems to never not interesting…

Welcome to Amsterdam

No duit gang??

Big shoes to fill kan?

Cheese galore!

Enjoying lunch at the many canals.

‘Working’ girls.

‘Working’ girl part 2

The ‘red light’ district at night…

Till I get a good line again, there will be no updates on the quasi-political going ons back home. – Jasmine

On the road again…

It’s just been forty minutes since I walked into the international terminal of KLIA. The pain of missing you has already begun… It’s inconceivable, how I can be in physical pain from an intangible feeling of missing you, and in such a short span of time, it’s already starting…

I suppose it’s because I know this year is going to be tough for me, may it be mentally, physically and emotionally. I’m not in the best shape emotionally, as I expect a tough time on the expedition this year. For more reasons than one – I am further away from home, without support in terms of someone to talk to, someone to help crutch me through the tough times, also because I’m very tight financially, and leaving home this time is really hard to do because it’s finally our own home, which has been left half-baked because of commitments to work…

It’s only day -1 of 52. I promise myself that it will be OK, that when I get home, everything will be safe and sound, and that it will be the final time I do this to myself. I pray too, that you will be OK back home, with dear Sis to keep you company, and with work to distract you from missing me.

I hope that you will remember me while I am away, that I remain in your thoughts and prayers, as those back home, are in mine – Jasmine.

On politiking…

Heard the news that SAPP will be tabling, or supporting a vote of no-confidence against AAB on Monday. Really now? Even after the bag of goodies landed in Sabah fairly recently?

Quoted below, is Ku Li’s stand on the matter :

For months I have been telling Umno and the Prime Minister about the people’s lack of confidence in the present leadership. Repeating the mistakes that led to the thrashing we received at the Elections, our leaders have remained complacent and live in denial.

Today’s developments around SAPP in Sabah point to the depth of the leadership crisis facing the country. The top leadership of BN and of Umno has lost all credibility, and our component parties are rethinking their relationship with us. This should come as no surprise except to those who have been living in complete denial.

In its management of the economy this leadership has lacked vision and shown a disturbing inability to plan and execute. The haphazard and wavering way in which petrol subsidies were recently removed damaged the government’s credibility in managing the economy at a time when we face very serious economic challenges and our people are hurting.

Politically, instead of listening, the leadership silences voices from the ground calling for change and suppresses democratic processes set out by the party constitution. Instead of change we have been getting media and political manipulation. I warned openly of SAPP’s impending action a week ago, but until yesterday night the leadership dismissed my warning out of hand and the Prime Minister said he knew nothing.

I want what is best for Umno, and I have put myself on the line to reform Umno. If our leaders refuse to face reality, I fear the worst for the party and this government.

It wouldn’t be fair, as much as it seems to be, to place the blame squarely on the shoulders on one man. Many many more are as equally responsible for the turn of events that is cascading towards us now. But then, it is always easier to blame one goat than to tar the whole herd, ehh?

And even better if that one silly goat, can ‘tai-chi’ the blame onto another, stinkier goat…

PUTRAJAYA, June 18 (Bernama) — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi says Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) President Datuk Yong Teck Lee’s latest action has been due to the fact that “I have not been able to satisfy his personal greed.”

Abdullah did not elaborate. However, his aides told Bernama that the prime minister would elaborate at a later date.

Yong declared in Kota Kinabalu on Wednesday that his party had lost confidence in Abdullah.

Of late, the former Sabah chief minister has been critical of Abdullah’s political decisions on Sabah as well as the move to increase fuel prices.

— BERNAMA

Perhaps its all about the money after all…

I guess that’s why it’s called politics. And it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted – Jasmine.

On smoking…

*sigh*

Been waiting for that one person in my life to quit smoking… It’s been almost a decade now, but it’s the one promise that hasn’t been fulfilled… I know you’re working on it… So, just a gentle reminder, these are a few ads from the Australian Anti-smoking campaign…

If these ain’t scary, I don’t know what is… Imagine, they put these on the packs of ciggies… πŸ˜›

Waiting with bated breath – Jasmine.