Keukenhof, Hague and Bergen op Zoom

Went looking this morning for the famous Intel Hotel Zaandam, which is known for its kooky, colourful architecture. We had a perfect day for it – weather was gorgeous, and is probably going to be the last sunny day we will get for a while. Problem was, the front of this hotel seem rather hard to find. There are plenty of other bright coloured buildings in Zaandam, but not quite the one I was looking for…

Close, but no cigar, I think that is the back of it on the right.

Felt like we were getting closer…

And then disco! Around one more corner and the perfect vantage point for the frontage of the crazy arse Intel Zaandam Hotel… I’d stay here, but it kinda looks unstable; like someone designed it while stoned out of their gourd.

Anyway, after chasing down some crazy architecture and a decent coffee for Mr K, we hit the road towards Keukenhof to chase us some tulip fields. Back in 1993, I went to the Wynyard Tulip Festival in Tasmania, most of the way to Davenport on a day trip from Hobart – and the images I took from that trip were like this one below… long lines of tulips being grown for commercial purposes. Still beautiful, but flowers growing bulk in straight lines on singular colours for harvesting.

My god did I have that wrong – Keukenhof is known as the ‘Garden of Europe’ and I knew that before we got here, but I figured it was one of those self proclamation things that is always exaggerated, yeah?

Turns out that Keukenhof is one of the world’s largest flower gardens and gardeners and flower fanciers literally come from all over the world to see the gorgeous flowers when they are in bloom – which is about now… March to late April before the tulips are all beheaded and the bulbs eventually pulled up.

Most of the rest of this post is going to be just Pretty Flower Porn, so if it’s not your thing – scroll on by, baby.

We walked around into a large communal area in front of one of the cafes, (and I say ‘one of’, because there are several!), to find this weird automated hurti-gurdi organ thing playing, ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’ by the Bangles, but sounding like a Wallace and Gromit intro… and let me tell you, that is a vile ear worm to give to people wandering around a psychedelically bright, hyper stimulated environment filled with colour and packed with people! Yes, I know there are no people in my pictures, but the place was as packed as a Manhattan side walk at a St Patrick’s Day Parade! This noisy thing, can go eat a bag of dicks though!

Anyway, back to the beautiful hues of the flowers. Something, something… preferably with a soundtrack from Alice of Wonderland or something…

I loved these ragged looking yellow tulips… never seen anything like them before. They were so fine and fringey in appearance, they looked more like silk or fabric than living flower petals.

Purple and red – best flower colour combo ever!

It’s about now that we start to get a feeling for how large the park is – it covers an area of 32 hectares and they say that approximately 7 million flower bulbs are planted in the gardens annually. 😮
That’s a LOT of bulbs and bullshit.

So many vibrant colours!

These ones look very cool.. a Van Gogh palette if I’ve ever seen one.

The gardens were opened in 1950 and have approximately 1.5 million visitors a year, which is no small feat considering they are only open this year from March 21st to May 12th, with their usual annual visitors season only last 8 weeks. After that, the gardens are closed as no one wants to come and see bare garden beds. Seems perennials aren’t really their thing here. We didn’t come here specifically at this time of year to see the gardens, it just happened to be on a ‘Things To Do’ in the area, list when I Googled up something to do on our way out of Amsterdam, and we though, ‘Sure, sounds like something different.’. We did however meet a couple on the plane who were beside themselves with excitement because they had always wanted to come to Keukenhof, and they had flown from Australia just to see these gardens. I hope they were here today, as this was the only sunny day we were going to get this week! I’m sure they weren’t disappointed though.

So many gorgeous colours… I took sooo many photos.

Some of these images look surreal, the colour is so punchy and the leaves so vibrant and shiny.

Red and purple… what do we say? We say, ‘yes!’. Always say, ‘yes’, to red and purple flowers.

There were many areas that were planted to look more like wild meadows, with flowers coming up among grasses between the trees – which is something you rarely seen in Australia, unless it is some introduced pest species.

Mr K promised not to do any tip-toeing, and true to his word, here he is squatting amongst the tulips.

Orange is not one of my favourite hues, but these complimented each other beautifully.

There’s been lots of thoughtful planting here. The colour combinations and the layout and design of the garden beds is truly spectacular. Yes, I know that is coming from someone who could kill a mint plant (and should confess, I actually have killed some mint plants), but I can still appreciate the work that goes into a place like this.

I mean, look at that…!

Oddly, I do not like commercial cut flowers, I think they are expensive, unsustainable as an industry and they look lovely, but they just bloody die in your house! But these gorgeous flowers alive and in the dirt, I can really appreciate that – even though I know they’re gonna die soon too, yeah, I know. Weird.

There was some cool stuff in the gift shop by the exit – tulip themed mugs, cheese boards, magnets, key rings, coasters, tea towels, coffee mugs, and fucking tulips smacked on everything, but there was also these cool Bylin Tulip handbags which were made of leather and looked very cool. *Mental note: I need to show them to Humphrey.

Anyway, we eventually had to get going and head to The Hague and more beautiful tulip fields lined our drive towards the town.

We were headed to The Hague to visit the Peace Palace. The Peace Palace (Vredespaleis) is an international law building. It houses the International Court of Justice, which is the main judicial body of the United Natinls, and has Arbitration Courts, an Academy of International Law and an enormous law library. Built in 1913, it has been a place of arbitration and international collaboration ever since.

Unfortunately, there were no guided tours available today else we would have been able to go in and see cool stuff like this:

Thanks Wikipedia for showing us what we can’t see today! 😛 And I was sooo looking forward to seeing that vase that is taller than me that was gifted by Russia – bet Putin would like it back now, it’d probably cover his poisons budget for a few months. Instead, we had to content ourselves with a poke through the visitors centre. The entire city of Haag is dedicated to the administration of International Law, but also this is the seat of government in Netherlands.

There were some cool looking objects on display in the visitors centre, but the labeling of most of these cabinets was… not great. I’ll have to do some research on them later.

After our somewhat abortive stop at the Peace Palace, we went to go find some lunch at De Pier in Scheveningen. This whole area looks like it’s trying to be a Greek or Italian beach in the Mediterranean… only it’s in the Netherlands, and this is the North fucking Sea, it’s really cold and bloody windy, and wherever you look out to sea, there are huge container ships and oil tankers seemingly barely 500m off shore! So, not quite as inviting as the huge umbrella resort style beach restaurants in southern Europe!

Still we found a nice spot, called ‘Atlantis’ for lunch… yeah, you don’t see many in-table braziers and throw rugs available in the Mediterranean either.

Lunch consisted of some delicious vintage cheese croquettes, a beef carpaccio pizza for Mr K, and a smoked salmon, Dutch shrimp and smoked eel salad for me. Super fresh and delicious.

So many kids playing on this beach like they’ve never seen sand before… and here was us rugged up in our windproof jackets. We were also the only people trying to stay out of the midday sun – pick the Queenslanders and their habitual skin cancer paranoia! No wonder Europeans come to Australia and get burned to a crisp!

After lunch, we were checking out the Madurodam transport hub before heading to Bergen op Zoom for the night. Most people visit Madurodam for the scale model / little town theme park – but not us… no, no, no. We are visiting it to gawk at transport infrastructure! lol. 😀

Bergen op Zoom is a pretty little place – it reminds me of Dresden, only smaller. The Grote Markt is a medieval town square surrounded by beautiful medieval buildings. The history of Bergen op Zoom is fairly extensive with it having been a major trading town, before becoming a garrison town. It has suffered several major fires which have seen extensive loss of historical records and considerable amount of rebuilding.

I imagine, the

The Markiezenhof gothic palace used to be a residence for local lords and Marquises of Bergen op Zoom.

After checking into one of those decidedly European hotels which has one major front door, but then is a rabbit warren of having overtaken the buildings either side of it, we went down to the square to find a drink and enjoy the evening before finding something for dinner.

Bitterballen, lobster bisque and steak entrecôte for Mr K.

Totally delicious, but was more soup than bisque and definitely more langoustine than lobster.

Back to the hotel in time to finish off some work for the evening!

Zaanse Schans and Volendam

Windmills and clogs and stroopwaffel, oh my! We picked up a hire car for the next part of our trip, and didn’t have any work on until this afternoon, so decided to head out of town to see some of the countryside. I went to Volendam on my last trip to the Netherlands, and when mentioned this to the hire car guy, he recommended Zaanse Schans as a ‘better place to go to see the real Netherlands’. So we thought we would check it out and maybe head to Volendam after if time was going to allow.

Zaanse Schans is a neighborhood in the Dutch town of Zaandam, only anbout 20kms outside of Amsterdam. It is known for its historic windmills and distinctive green wooden houses which were relocated here to protect them, and to recreate the look of an 18th/19th-century village. There are also a variety of artisan workshops demonstrating local handicrafts such as cheese making (of course!), wooden clog carving, barrel making, traditional soap making and pewter casting among other things. Most of these workshops are in old saw mills, spice mills, and flour mills.

The whole are is set in amongst what feels like people’s backyards, which must be annoying given the little historic village area attracts around 2 million visitors every year.

Today, it was blowing a gale of about 45kpm, so a few of the windmills were going like the clappers and on or two others seemed to have been secured to stop them working in these conditions.

It certainly is a picturesque little town, but damn that wind brought the forecast temp of about 13C down a lot with the wind chill.

This moody day made for some lovely pics of the windmills.

Duckie here was mostly hiding his head from the wind, but I waited him out until he was preening a little for a photo.

We did pop into a couple of the shops – partly to get out of the wind. This was the soakmaking workshop. It smelled amazing. I was expecting to walk into a cloud of perfumed hell, but instead the shop smelled really kinda earthy and not overpoweringly saccharine at all.

We did however get tricked into thinking this was a soap shop… only to be surrounded by Miffys! You can’t escape the Miffy in the Netherlands it would seem.

These guys were using the windmill to lift an enormous log out of the canal. Very clever.

I know this pic makes it look like there is hardly anyone here, but the car park has bout 100 bus parks and it must have been about half full, so there were heaps of people walking about. We tried to go into the cheese making studio, but it was bedlam and even though it would have gotten us out of the wind, we both rushed through the cheese shop part of the studio, to avoid the sudden crush of people.

We had better luck at the clog museum/workshop. Very cool buildings they have repurposed for these art and work spaces.

On the outside of the clog shop was this very cute arrangement, which every man and their dog had to get a selfie in front of… and I mean that literally, there were plenty of people visiting the village with their dogs and I watched one woman struggle for five minutes trying to get her super fluffy corgi looking mutt to put its paws into the clogs so she could bob down and get a photo with the heart made of clogs in the background. I was tempted to help, but it was like watching a live TikTok video – ridiculous but weirdly compelling.

Inside, there was some historical panels talking about how practical and useful wooden clogs are/have been through Dutch history. I loved these wooden clogs with the high leather gaiters riveted to the, that makes so much sense in these low lying lands full of water.

It was also interesting to note that each different area had slight variation on the types and shapes of clogs being made in their region – even though they might only be 50AD apart or less.

There were very fancy wedding clogs… for her:

And for him…

And walls full of brightly coloured and varnished clogs that you could buy to stuff wooden tulips into and take home – no doubt, only to realise that, ‘This shit totally doesn’t suit your house in suburban Brisbane! What were you thinking?’ No, I didn’t buy any clogs.

The super fancy, over the top, Swarovski encrusted, diamantéd clog from hell…. Remember kids, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

The workshop area reminded me very much of the Clog Barn in Coffs Harbour, only much, much larger. Same fabulous smell of timber and wood shavings though. 🙂

No one was working while we were there, but I’m fairly certain they use the same techniques to make clogs the world over.

The larger portion of the building was taken up with racks and racks of clogs for sale… leather upper, timber sole clogs, decorative clogs, unadorned timber clogs, super painted and highly varnished fancy schmancy clogs. You name it – they had it and in sizes to suit everyone. Well, maybe not Yale, but nearly everyone.

After this, we decided to flee Zaanse Schans and head to Volendam. The wind and driving cold weren’t awesome for outdoor activities… but I don’t know what I was thinking because Volendam is a port, right by the seaside! So of course the wind was even harsher and colder! 🙂

First we decided to stop by the local tourist information, which is conveniently located by the Volendam Museum… had no idea what to expect but was strangely disappointed and really not at the same time. It was one of those places with mannequins that make you feel like you’re being watched the whole time you go through the exhibits in a manner that makes you more aware of their creepiness and less able to actually concentrate on the information the ‘curators’ are trying to impart.

The Gumball Sniffer: you can’t see it very well, but this shop keeper is scolding the young girl for sniffing a gumball machine; literally her nose is two centimetres from it.

We noticed a running motif through plenty of the paintings and this installation – the Dutch used to play a LOT of card games, most of which showed money on the table. So we can extrapolate that in the 17-19thC period, they were rabid gamblers, yeah? And this kid is being taught early how to be a proper gambling wastrel in his future.

I’m sure it was totes common for the local haberdasher to hand over fabric to local kids to make kits with. Mind you, given today’s windy conditions, I fully expect you could have made a wool kite back in the 18thC and the damn thing would fly in these conditions.

This one – I got nothing. It was an older guy with a weird hat mending a fishing net, and a young boy with what looks like a fishing pot, sitting beside a massive pot of eels and potatoes (yum!?) and they have matching side by side bunk type beds… nothing weird happening here at all.

And of course, the obligatory womens doing womens work, diorama.

The only thing I did find in this museum to be absurdly fascinating was the huge room covered in the decals from cigar bands, affectionately known as the Cigar Band House. It was bizarre, to say the least. The Cigar Band House is a collection of mosaics made entirely from cigar bands. The project began in 1947, when a local artists began collecting and assembling the centre decal portion of bands into large mosaic designs. Over the years, he collected more than 11 million bands, and created Volendam’s people in traditional dress, sailors and fish in the harbour, local heraldry, and oddly a Statue of Liberty.

This entire room including the ceilings, and some of the furniture is covered in cigar bands.

A map of Volendam…

Heraldic display of the bestest weirdest kind…

A local windmill, and the church (which you can visit nearby- and maybe we should have instead!).

Most absurd and truly strange hobby ever – and the whole thing reminded me of the 1066 Project (sadly no longer on display), that I ran into in bum-fuck nowhere New Zealand where some completely obsessed nutter had spent 33 years making a complete reproduction of the Bayeaux Tapestry in teeny tiny steel mosaics! It was bizarre… so much so, it could be a ‘sister museum’ to the Cigar Band House.

There’s naught so weird as folks!

Anyway, we when to the Volendam Port at the risk of being blown right off our feet and pottered around a bit. There were loads of restaurants and cafes that are probably delightful to sit out on the esplanade and have a beer and some Dutch frites – when it’s not blowing a gale that is! – and loads of very touristy shops selling the same souvenirs that were in the shops in Amsterdam, but at roughly half the price.

Even the civic art pieces looked like they’d had enough of the wind chill.

The sheer amount of poor food choices on could make here in an hours is astonishing. Stroopwafels, actual waffles, burgers, hotdogs, Dutch frites, beer, beer and more beer! There was of course a healthy option – the cheese factory a little down the road. 🙂

I imagine this pub is great fun on a summer’s afternoon overlooking the water.

And when they aren’t trying to feed you they’re trying to sell you more hats, tshirts, magnets, wooden tulips, pretend Delftware, clogs, keychains and Miffys, again!

Volendam Square – yes, the sensible peoples are all indoors today.

We had work to do this afternoon, so didn’t hang around too long and made our way back to Amsterdam. I took some happy snaps along the canals, and caught some of those quintessentially Dutch pics of the narrow houses and of course – bicycles everywhere.

The potted tulips really brighten up the city scapes – I imagine things could look quite bleak after months of a brutally cold winter.

National Opera House – bit of a Monet: looks great from a distance but up close the building needs a lot of work and a bit of facelift.

The Hotel we nearly stayed at – glad we didn’t, it’s on a decidedly noisy intersection.

More narrow canal houses.

Plenty of work this afternoon and next thing we knew it was dinner o’clock and we were nowhere near finished, so we decided to order in some dinner… which is where I discovered that ‘Dutch cuisine’ is as match a contradiction in terms as I had always been told it was. Theres’s no such thing – it’s a bit like Australia in that regard, we’ve stolen all our cuisine from other country’s influences. We decided to try out some tandoori style dishes from the Dutch Dubbawalla, for no other reasons than that Amsterdam is known for it’s wide variety of good quality international restaurants, the Dutch have a long history with India, and well, who can resist a restaurant that has such a silly name.

Food arrived – and it was delicious. Silly name or no, 10/10 would try some curries next time. Back to work and then kersplat.

Amsterdam Museumplein

This image is hurting my head, almost as much as it was hurting my head while I was standing across from it and noticing how some of the brickwork is decidedly ‘triangular’ as in small fractions of bricks at the bottom to wider full bricks at the top, built to accomodate for the fact that the building next door isn’t straight! Wedges of brickworks for crooked little houses in crooked little streets!

Wonky architecture aside, Amsterdam has heaps to recommend it (even if you’re not here for the Red Light District or the cannabis coffee shops), and OMG, I have died and gone to cheese heaven! There are so many cheeses shops everywhere.

So much cheese! So little refrigeration space in our hotel minibar fridge! :/ Next time Gromit!

We have some early work to do, but Mr K got out bright and early to get a jump on the day (yeah… nothing to do with jet lag and being wide awake at stupid o’clock), so he decided to take a walk and find some transit cards that we could use on the trams to get to meetings and later to the museums we wanted to see. The city was so still and beautiful before everyone was getting on with their day.

Except tram drivers, they seem to have to start earlier than everyone else… god bless public transport.

The Amsterdam Central train station had the transit cards we were looking for – but as of April 22, 2024 (in approx 14 days time) they will no longer be available. Everyone is being encouraged to either have an app on their mobile device that can be topped up, or to use cash vending machines to print out a ticket that contains a QR code that you scan as you get on and off public transport. And why is this innovation being pushed, like literally everywhere? Well, for one, it’s cheaper they don’t have to make physical cards, and two, the app system tracks and gathers way more data that these dumb cards can. *scowly face* Good for those in the industry not so great for consumer.

They probably could have made them way cheaper by ditching the fancy hologram in the first instance!

Reflections on the canal… gorgeous.

Anyway, after the meetings were done this morning, we ended up at the Van Gogh Museum. And by ‘ended up’, I mean, we made it in time to use the timed entry tickets I had pre-purchased weeks ago – which was just as well, as there were signs everywhere saying the entire day’s visitor allocation was SOLD OUT. So heads up travellers! Pre-purchasing is a must even on the shoulder season these days. The building itself is quite impressive – though a bit of a nightmare if you can’t walk the stairs (the lifts are small and cramped and slooow).

I took a bunch of photos that I want to include here, but I’m not going to rave on about most of them – if you’re unfamiliar with Vincent Van Gogh’s work and his particular genius in the impressionist movement, you need way more help than I’m gonna give here!

Mostly I was trying to capture the texture, and interplay of light and colour that Van Gogh’s works are famous for; which rarely translates well when the works are reproduced in prints or photographs. Which you know, if the professionals can’t manage – I’m highly unlikely to manage it today… but you know, everybody needs a hobby, or in this case a distraction when you’re musuem’ing it in chronic pain. 😀

’Wheatfield With Crows’, c.1890… there’s something menacing but still lovely about this one.

‘Wheatfields Under Thunder Clouds’, c.1890.

‘A Pair of Leather clogs’, c. 1888.

‘Irises’, c.1890. Painted in while he was living in the St Remy psychiatric hospital, the Irises paintings were primarily a study in colour – they were originally bright purple on a yellow background, but the paint has faded with time.

Like I said, beautiful museum, but all the galleries revolved around these spiralling staircases. Accessibility fail.

Van Gogh painted this very famous ‘Almond Blossom’ (c.1890) painting just after his brother, Theo, had a son who he had promised to name Vincent, after him. Upon receiving word that the son was born, and named Vincent, he reportedly became completely absorbed with painting this almond blossom against a blue sky and took to his work for days on end. He wrote to Theo: ‘the last canvas of the branches in blossom, you’ll see that is was perhaps the most patiently worked, best thing I have done, painted with calm and a greater sureness of touch’. The painting became one of Theo’s most treasured possessions and their son, Vincent Jnr, later founded this museum. Which was a cute personal story that accompanied the artwork. There was also a bunch of twonk about the delicate flowering buds heralding the spring and new life, and the birth of a child bringing hope and yada, yada, yada…

This was an interestingly curated piece – ‘Landscape with Rabbits’, c.1889…

…and a vignette on display by the museum, which showed one of the rabbits from the field of this painting compared to a photograph of a rabbit. I believe to try and demonstrate how Van Gogh seems to capture the shape and movement of the animal with zero attempt at lifelike reproduction.

‘Skull of a Skeleton With a Burning Cigarette’, c.1886. An early-ish painting showing a skull with a lit cigarette in its mouth is a sort of joke piece completed while studying at the art academy in Antwerp… art students, huh? They never change.

‘Self Portrait with Grey Felt Hat’, c.1887.

It’s amazing how the impressionists create light and tone by their creative use of colour – they all did it, would make a skin tone have depth and texture but somehow instead of using blended hues of skin tone, they usedcrazy blue, green or in this case, even red paint. It’s a super commonplace technique now, but when these guys were bucking against the realism of the works that came before them, it was extraordinary.

‘Daubigny’s Garden’, c.1890.

All the textures!

‘Zonnebloemen’ c.1889… which I think is a far more romantic name than ‘The Sunflowers’, as English speakers know this, Van Gogh’s most famous work. I can’t stress enough how much I have HATED this artwork for literally decades. Very likely unfairly, at that. You see, the IVF clinic that I attended from 1999 until 2008 trying to have our little family had a print of this hanging in the waiting room, and every time I was kept waiting – this is what I was staring at. It was there when I received bad news, it was there mocking me with it’s bright and sunny disposition when I felt at the lowest of my lows – and it didn’t matter how many times I told my specialist how much I hated staring at this fucking print, he never took it down. Actually, that’s not accurate, he did eventually take it down and replaced it with a huge black and white Anne Geddes style portrait of his own newborn daughter when she came along… which was moderately better, but also sad in an entirely different way.

Anyway, I may have judged the little sunflowers print a little too harshly as lifeless, boring, and way too fucking yellow! Turns out this is a beautiful painting, and like most of Van Gogh’s pieces, exquisitely executed.

This painting is on the Ground Floor and almost available to you as soon as you enter the gallery – but for some reason, we missed it entirely and saw it only as we were leaving.

And of course one of the best things about museum hopping is… exiting via the Gift Shop. I was expecting to see sunflower adorned EVERYTHING, but instead Miffy in Sunflower dresses seemed to dominate the shelves. I was vaguely tempted to buy one to take home as a gift for a friend; right up until I saw the €30 price tag! That’s AUD$56 for a 7” mass produced stuffed, crocheted bunny. Sorry, not happening.

The other unexpected gift shop juxtaposition was a smattering of cute but weird, Pokémon/Van Gogh cross over merch? Apparently they had an exhibition that was running until Jan this year which was all Pokémon paintings done in the style of Van Gogh. That’s one way to get the kids to engage with art!

Van Gogh Museum is a solid 7/10. Seen it, probably wouldn’t come back for a re-run next time I’m in town. It’s missing some very famous pieces that I’ve seen in other museums – The Starry Night, The Cafe Terrace at Night, and The Bedroom at Arles just to name a few. I have been fortunate enough to have seen most of these pieces in the past, but it feels like they belong here, and they’re just not. :/

After this we wandered off to find a bit of late lunch. I’m afraid sticking to my low carb diet is going to prove impossible here with the main lunch offerings being sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs and of course the world famous Dutch fries drowning in cheese or served with mayo…

Tasted just like Icelandic hotdogs!

Just across the park from the Van Gogh Museum is the Amsterdam Rijksmusuem, which is the national museum of the Netherlands dedicated to Dutch Art. When I was in Amsterdam last, way back in 1995, Holland was one of the last countries we visited on our Grand 70 Day Tour of Europe, and we were admittedly a bit museum’d out and blasé about seeing more old paintings, so we skipped it. Thirty years late, but I’m glad to have the chance to come back and finally check it out.

I’ve taken a pile of photos of interesting objects, some of which I have the description for and some I’ll have to go look up later. It’s entirely likely that the entire collection is digitised online somewhere, but old habits die hard. 🙂

Reliquary in the form of a triptych. Paris c.1400-1420 : miniature altar doubles belonged to someone associated with the Parisian court. From the descriptive plaque, ‘Seeing the Christ’s tormented body, the owner could mediate on his sufferings at any time.’ Sounds like fun for the whole family!

Ivory mirror case depicting three courtiers. French, c.1425

‘The Raising of Lazarus’, attributed to Aertgen Claesz, also called Aertgen van Leyden, oil on panels, c.1560.

Not so fast Rjiksmuseum! We see what you did there – this one is clearly AI generated!

Chainmail, Low Countries, c.1400-1500, iron.
Made of iron rings linked together, this one weights over 11 kilograms. With its cute little button at the collar it looks like a medieval polo shirt.

Parvise with St Andrew’s Cross, Burgundy c.1474-1475.
Covered in symbols of the Duke of Burgundy – the red St Andre’s Cross, four gold firesteels, and black-white flints with red flames.

Engelbert II van Nassau, oil on panel, c.1480-1490. Prominent noble in the Duchy of Burgundy, has the fancy prestigious chain of the Order of the Golden Fleece and a cool falcon.

Panels from an organ case (Church of St Vitus) by Jan Eerste. Utrecht c. 1510-1520.

Collection of Aquamantiles, mostly in the forms of Lions. 14thC.

Above: Lion Aquamantile, attributed to Master Berhuser or his workshop. Konigsberg (now Kaliningrad) c. 1375-1300. Copper alloy.

Below: Aquamantile, craftsman unknown. Nuremberg, c.1400. Copper alloy.

Portraits of an unknown Couple. Maarten van Heemskerck. Haarlem, 1529.
The gentleman is busy with his important bookkeeping, while his wife is virtuously sitting at her spinning wheel. A conscientious merchant is a trope from occupational portraits of Dutch citizen around this time.

Drinking Horn of the Amsterdam Company of Arquebusiers.
Attributed to Aren’t Cornelia’s Caster. Amsterdam, 1547. Silver and buffalo horn. This luxury drinking horn playe a prominent roll in civic guard ceremonies. The horn was passed around the table and everyone drank from it. In this way the militamen expressed their common bond and unity. The claws in the silver mount are the symbol of the arqubusiers… and that’s how they all got the plague!

Ripped baby Jesus doesn’t skip ab day!
The Holy Family, Jan Cornelia’s Vermeyen (c.1503-1559). Oil on Panel.

Chest, Italy c.1450-1500. Painted poplar wood.
Heraldic Cassone covered in a family’s coat of arms. Chests such as these were used on the occasion of marriage to hold a bridal trousseau, consisting of clothing, fabrics and precious dowry items. They were usually set against a wall and could be used for travelling. This trunk is fully 1.5m long.

I couldn’t find the description on this amazing vessel! But it’s gorgeous.

Messenger’s badge (bodebus) of Amsterdam.
Attributed to Jan Cornelia’s Coster, Amsterdam, 1548. The badge was worn by a travelling civic messenger and was an offical insignia. The elaborately worked decorations includes the arms of Amsterdam under the imperial crown. This thing is huge – fully 6” across and probably a fairly hefty weight.

Ceremonial chain of the Guild of Saint George of Zevenbergen. Bergen op Zoom or Breda, c.1525-1546.
Visible on the chain are Saint George and his arms, which signify the collar belonged to the guild. The seven mountains of Zevenbergen are depicted as are oak leaves which stand for religious steadfastness, storks for piety and respect to church, state and master.

Hunting horn, Johannes Matheus van Kempen, c. 1848, parcel-gilt silver.
In 1849 King William II presented this horn as a prize for the faster hunter at Het Loo Palace. Its shape is derived from an ox horn and it is embellished with images of predators and prey.

Tapestry depicting the arms of Charles V. Worked by Willem de Pannemaker (active 1535-1578). Wool, silk, silver and gold thread. Brussels, c.1540-1555.

Weepers from the tomb of Isabella of Bourbon (wife of Charles the Bold). Cast by Reiner van Thienen. Brussels, c.1475-1476. Originally placed at the abbey of Saint Michael in Antwerp, the tomb was surrounded by 24 mourning family members and ancestors known as ‘pleurants’, (weepers).

Soup Tureen, Jean Baptiste Claude Odiot, Paris, c.1819. Silver and gold gilt.
Believed to have belonged to a 140 piece dining service belonging to the Russian empress.

Cabinet, Pierre Gole, Paris c. 1655-1660. Various kinds of wood, veneered with tortoiseshell, ivory, green-stained bone, and mounts of gilt bronze. Gole was originally from Bergen in what is now the province of Noord-Holland, and established himself in Paris in 1643. Before too long he was apppointe court cabinet maker by King Louis XIV. This cabinet is decorated with floral marquetry, and ornamental technique that was invented and disseminated by Gole.

There was an entire gallery full of Delft ceramic ware of various sizes, quality and uses.

Case with Duelling Pistols. Jean le Page (1746-1834).
Pistols: wood and metal. Case: wood, leather, velvet. C.1808.
This case with duelling pistols and tools was made in the workshop of Jean Le Page in Paris. Up until the Battle of Waterloo (1815), Le page was allowed to bear the name of ‘Arquebusier de L’Empereur’ (Gunmaker to Emperor Napoleon). This case came into the possession of Lieutenant Hengry Sagermans of Brussels shortly after Waterloo, who claimed the pistols were found in Napoleon’s travel carriage which had been abandoned near the battlefield.

Piece of the stone on which Prince William III set foot on arriving in England at the fishing village of Brixham, on November 15, 1688. He invaded England to overthrow his Catholic father-in-law, James II and to prevent him from turning against the Netherlands. Known as the Glorious Revolution, William’s coup was a great success.

Three door cabinet, Paris, c.1835-1838. Oak, ebony, pietre dure, gilt bronze. Once owned by William II.

Still life with a Gilt Cup. William Clasz Heda, oil on canvas, 1635.
The range of tones that Heda could paint are astonishing. Objects are beautifully rendered in a most realistic style regardless of surface – pewter, silver, damask, glas,, mother of pearl. Heda specialised in ‘tonal banquet pieces’. Damn, now I want oysters.

Wandering through these amazing art galleries in Europe, it’s often easy to forget you are wandering through an architectural marvel in its own right. The Rjiksmuseum is an incredibly beautiful building.

The upper floor houses the great masterpieces of the museum’s collection…

The Love Letter, Johannes Vermeer, c.1669-1670.

The Milkmail, Johannes Vermeer, c.1660

Self Portrait as the Apostle Paul, Rembrandt van Rijn, c. 1661.

The Threatened Swan, Jan Asselijn, c.1640.

And of course, the Nightwatch, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1642. Which I never expected to see out of a frame on a stretched canvas like this. I expected the glass room built around it so no one could get within 9 feet of it, but no frame. I feel it loses something here from how it would have been presented in the artist’s lifetime.

Long day is long, and museums with crowds of people are exhausting. Couple of pretty pics on the way back to our hotel. The tram system is efficient and clean, if a little confusing to start with.

Popped into a souvenir shop looking for a lapel pin for my collection – and instead found more cannabis products than you could poke a stick at. Why would anyone buy their pot products from a souvenir shop when there are coffee shops selling all the gummies and brownies you could possibly want?

I am very tired, and I should have learned a few words of Dutch.

The Pointy End of the Plane.

Today’s the day! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the tank is clean! Wait?! The tank is clean! As Mr K would say. We are heading to Central Europe for a three week trip, primarily to do some work, but we have plans that will hopefully make the most of our time off so we can see lots of cool stuff and because it’s our 25th wedding anniversary at the end of the month, we have some special stuff planned also. Mr K, believe it or not, has never been to this part of the world – sure he’s been to Greenland, Qatar and Russia, Estonia, Iceland and Saudia Arablia, but never the Netherlands, Switzerland or France. So we re off on a working adventure.

To start off on the super special fun stuff – we managed to get ourselves (OMG!) first class tickets on an Emirates A380 for the long haul. Mr K’s Platinum One fanciness may played a part in this, and he mightn’t get to keep it, so gotta work it while you got it! We had the smoothest check in and progression through customs I have ever experienced, there was literally no one in security so we really didn’t need the Express Passes that came with our fancy first class tickets. We spent a little time at the Emirates lounge in Brisbane which was okay, but not as enjoyable as the Qantas First Class lounge in Sydney and definitely not as relaxing, with it’s harsh lights and uptempo music. Nice bonus though is that first class and business can board directly from the lounge to the upper deck of the aircraft.

We were boarded without any problem and were personally escorted to our ‘suites’ – not seats! – and the four staff that were looking after the people in my aisle (a total of 8 people!) came personally to greet us. First thing I was offered was champagne, but Mr K the frequent first class denizen that he is had given me a tip – say ‘no’ to the Moėt and wait until we are in the air for the 2013 vintage Dom Pérignon. Which given we didn’t really eat in the lounge, was good advice. Second thing I was asked was, ‘Ms Borys, when would you like to have your shower?’ Oh, yeah – a shower right before going to sleep will suit me perfectly.

We ended up delayed in our take off by nearly two hours, which I did mind at all, as I was busy checking out all the bells and whistles in my little sweet, but I couldn’t stop myself from thinking how a two hour delay is normally nightmarish for me in the back of the plane. I’ve done more long haul flights than I could count and with my chronic back pain, that means loading up with drugs and mentally preparing for the most horrific 20-28 hours imaginable. Adding two hours delay after boarding turns a 14 hour flight to a 16 hours of stuck in uncomfortable seats in massive amounts of pain and much grinding of teeth… but here is first class suite, it was more ‘Oh yes, pyjamas and slippers would be lovely’, and ‘A cocktail before take off? Sounds fabulous.’ I could seriously get used to this.

The two hour delay I later found out, was very unusual – we had pulled away from the stand and were starting our taxi to the runway when the Captain came over the PA saying we had to return to the gate and he didn’t make the usual vague paperwork or engineering check excuse. I later asked the cabin manager if he was able to tell me why we were delayed, and he said he didn’t know the details, but they returned to the gate and some ‘authorities’ (yes, vague is a job requirement in the airline industry) who came aboard and removed a passenger in hand cuffs, then of course the situation was further delayed as they had to remove his luggage and we had lost our spot on the runway. So two hours.

I spend the time checking out the entertainment system, the minibar, the writing desk, adjusting the seat to be more comfortable – man I am just happy as a pig in shit with any type of footrest but this was next level, it adjusts in headrest height, reclines, leg rest raises, you can move it six ways from Sunday. We also have our own little sliding doors so we don’t have to interact with our fellow travellers, let alone sit next to them… ewww! Mind you, everyone in here is in a pretty good mood – so making eye contact with anyone is immediate smiles and raising of glasses.

I have a little minibar – which I can request be replenished or replaced with alternative drinks to my preference. It also has some chocolate coated nuts and snacks – and it smoothly lifts and raises at the touch of a button with the same grace and elegance of a late ‘90s high-end, stereo cassette player. lol.

There is also a little lighted make up mirror with some refreshing face mists and moisturisers that open up in the writing desk.

A basket of in flight snacks is also on the desk, that gets refreshed after take off as this moveable basket is collected just before we take off and returned as soon as we are in the air… they even offered to customise the snack basked with whatever I preferred.

There is a complimentary little leather bound notebook and pen – the little leather stand they are in however must have been walking in the past. It’s so overwhelmingly ‘take whatever you want’ that I can see why some people might have gone ‘oh cool, the holder for these comes out, I’ll just take that too.’

There is also a largish toiletry bag full of BVLGARI toiletries – toothbrush, eye mask and earplugs also included along with hand lotion, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, a bottle of parfum, and a cute little hand mirror, and a bunch of other stuff.

Here is Mr.K looking super stressed about having to be in this little suite for the next 16 hours with it’s unlimited everything!

Eventually we were in the air, and the first of about six glasses of vintage Dom Pérignon was served. Delicious and decadent! I know how much this stuff costs!

I wasn’t super hungry but if the champagne was going to keep flowing one really must eat something. Emirates FC is famous for their caviar service, so I wasn’t going to miss that. It was also served with a ‘little something the chef prepared during the delay’, a crab and appetiser and a goat cheese tartlet which was exquisite.

And of course the caviar! There was beef tenderloins, prawn linguine, seared barramundi, and more fucking choices than you can poke a stick at … but I can’t say no to the caviar. It was really good caviar – I won’t lie, I have tried better, but they were super generous with the serving and it came with a lot of lovely fixings. Went perfectly with the Dom. 🙂

There was a huge pile of it – and when I cleaned my plate, the attendant saw I had used hardly any of the breads etc and came and asked me if I would like another serve!.

Dinner and a movie later, it was time to go have a shower and get ready for bed. At the front of the first class cabin is a little round vestibule that has two shower rooms either side and a small waterfall with flickering candlelights and a teapot set out for help yourself camomile tea. I can’t believe this shit, knowing how uncomfortable it is in economy, and to be fair, Emirates A380 economy is one of the better ones out there – this is just nuts.

And then I saw the bathrooms with the showers. 😮 Oh dear lord, not only could you swing a cat in here, you could also have a party with six people in here! If it was made by Schindler’s Lifts, it would have a max capacity of 40 people written on it!

But wait, there’s more – you honestly really could hold a party in here. And did I mentioned the floor is heated? Seriously! Mr K says he thinks it’s heated with the rising aggravation and discontent of the economy passengers downstairs. Cheeky bugger.

Even though they gave us all individual toiletry bags in our little suite, and there were more little toiletries in the makeup mirror in the desk – there was even more amenities of anything you could possibly need provided in the shower room.

I cam back from the shower to find that my bed had been made up – a nice firm mattress topper was on the seat, a full size pillow and a nice fluffy duvet were all nearly folded down – weirdly, I had a pretty decent night sleep. I forgot to take a photo of the suite with the bed made up, so snavelled one off the internet:

Then it was time for breakfast- and was offered more champagne before they offered tea or coffee! Decided that a repeat of the caviar service for breakfast was probably poor form so instead order a Gruyère cheese omelette, and even though I didn’t ask for it, it came with a basket of pastries that I didn’t touch and some fresh fruit and OJ, and later sourdough toast.

Originally we were supposed to be arriving at Dubai Terminal C, which is a good half hour walk to get to Terminal A where our flight to Amsterdam was scheduled to depart from… but thanks to the guy being marched off the plane in handcuffs delaying our flight, we seemed to have scored a bump in priority and we arrived in Terminal A where a lot of the connecting flights seemed to be leaving from. Even Mr K’s habitual 0655 flight to Jeddah from here was waiting for connecting travellers. We ended up arriving at Gate A35 and leaving from Gate A34… but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. We ha an Emirates staff member collecting us from the gate and escorting us through security, and shortcutting us all the way through to the Emirates First Class Lounge, where again we would be boarding to the top deck of the plane directly from the lounge.

Hello down there! I’m sure I’ll be back in the world of the normal people soon enough!

Due to our late arrival, we had barely time to use the bathrooms and have a cold drink at the longe before we were boarding agin for the leg to Amsterdam. This time I had a window suite for this flight, which was just as spacious but felt far more private as the curve of the plane meant that the doors felt like they were going much closer to the ceiling – probably less ideal for really tall people or for or any one who gets claustrophobic in a lift, but felt really cosy for a short person like me… like having your own secret club house as a kid, but on a plane. Of course, the suite had all the same amenities, and snacks and minibar and all good things as the first flight.

… and with no delay, it was back on the Dom for what was supposed to breakfast but felt more like lunch because we had been up for hours.

Today’s flight was conveniently telling me when I should pray and in what direction.

I went through to the shower early as the bathroom behind me was occupied, and discovered the water feature is also a ‘help yourself mini-bar’ for most of the flight, and they only put it all away when there’s high turbulence or when most people are filing in to use the showers. Seriously – there is various wines, vodka, gin, cognac… I bet they wouldn’t blink if you took the bottle back to your suite to save getting up for refills.

Lunch time! Couldn’t resist… fourth glass of Dom! I hadn’t intended to have more than two more glasses of champagne, but each time Laura came to offer to top me up, I honestly couldn’t find a good reason not to accept. Oh and wouldn’t you know it – more caviar for the people.

Watched a bit of Yellowstone, had a bit of a snooze, and looked up and we were five hours into our 7 hours to Amsterdam. Was thinking I should have something to eat as we were going to be in a potentially long transit through Schiphol Airport and then even longer to get to our hotel (I was right – that sentence took two seconds to write and about four hours to execute). So I asked for the mini-sliders, which aren’t on the actual Dining Menu, but rather just on the Movie Snacks menu… Laura promised me they were tiny, so I asked for a bit of cheese on the side.

This turned out to be a bit of a mistake as she then gave me what would make a very sturdy side plate of more cheese than I could consume.

Before too long, I was called for my preferred shower time so I could arrive refreshed and next minute, there are windmills outside the window. Hello Holland.

We actually had a fairly relaxed transit through the airport and smooth run through customs, before going for what felt like a quite a hike to find the Uber pick up point… we had been warned here that cab drivers will charge a fortune, and as it was a set price Uber trip was going to be 48 Euros, (about AUD$90) to get to our hotel. So Uber it was.

It was supposed to be overcast and raining, but it was a beautiful afternoon. Let’s hope we see a bit more of this during the week.

Made it to the hotel, and in spite of our very comfortable long haul transit, we still kinda collapsed in a heap. It’ll be an early night tonight as we have an early start tomorrow.

Bangkok snippets

For a ten day trip, it didn’t feel like we did a lot of truly touristy stuff in Bangkok (which is probably because I smashed a couple of days in Cambodia into the middle of it)… but some of the highlights were 1) Gamer booking us a fancy dinner at Aksorn – a really nice Michelin star restaurant that does traditional Thai food in a small rooftop, open kitchen restaurant. The food was amazing! Red duck curry has now been officially ruined for me for life – as the insipid pathetic offerings that pass for red duck curry in Australian restaurants is truly dismal in comparison. *sad face*. There was a fair bit of wine twonking as Gamer is fond of international wines, whereas I am mostly familiar with boutique Australian vineyards.

Afterwards, we went to some weird tropics bar where everyone was ordering weird umbrella encumbered cocktails served in carved out baby pineapples (Thai pineapples are a fraction of the size of the ones we usually get at home – and much much sweeter)… at the time I remember thinking, ‘Why the fuck are all these highly intelligent people choosing to spend their time and money in an OUTDOOR venue when it’s stinking hot and humid?!? Where’s the AC people?’ As it turns out, I should be thanking them, the guy I was sitting beside and chatting with, tested positive for Covid like two days later! Yay, hot and sticky outdoor drinking, I guess? *shrug*

Another interesting stop we did was to the ICONSIAM shopping centre which to me if more affectionately known as the Brand Whore Mall – there was everything from Armani and BVLGARI to Burberry to Yves St Laurent and Zegna, plus every expensive twonky thing in between. Floors and floors of huge, largely empty but over staffed luxury brands everywhere. The most interesting area of the centre though was the ICONSIAM Floating Market that was built in the bottom of the shopping centre, which was less ‘floating market’ and rather more, ‘we build a fucking fish pond and plonked some colourful Thai-looking boats in it’! Totes for the tourists… but cute enough. I think we probably dropped a grand total of about $20 there grabbing a bite to ear. Not so exciting imho… but I’m not their target demographic; my clothes and shoes are chosen 100% for comfort and preferred colour, not name brands, and I’ve been using the same $90 nylon cross body handbag for probably close to 8 years now. 😛

We did manage to go visit the HUGE temple complex at Wat Pho which is the home of Bangkok’s famous Reclining Buddha. The temple has loads of funereal monuments all over the place and seems to be a rabbit warren of monasteries and smaller temples covering an 80,000sqm complex. From what I could find, not a lot is known about the origins of the temple being on this site – they don’t know exactly who founded it and aren’t exactly sure when construction started. It is thought to have been built and heavily expanded on during the reign of King Phetracha, (1688–1703)… hmm never heard of him; oddly enough Thai rulers were never covered in my various history lectures at uni.

Cool statues lined the outside of some of the temple buildings… Yale for scale:

The Reclining Buddha is HUGE! And of course, being such an internationally recognised monument of Bangkok, we ran into a line of people waiting to go in… a line that was slowed down by the need to take off shoes. Now, I travel a lot, and in no small part due to my experiences in Japan, I often travel in slip on shoes – Sketchers are perfect for this sort of light walking in fair weather – and I tend to carry a reusable shopping bag in my purse that can be used for throwing my shoes into in a pinch… seems that this sort of thing isn’t common practice. There were soooo many people with either lace up boots on, or stupid strappy sandals, that needed to sit down in order to take their shoes off and my god did it clog up the entrance and exit areas.

But once we got inside it was spectacular, and not just the statue of the Buddha itself, but the intricate artwork on every single interior surface of the building.

There were several small shrines in between the columns that supported the enormous roof that houses the 46m long Buddha, but I couldn’t find any information on what these particular shrines were dedicated to. I find this so frustrating – the main reason I love to travel is to learn about different cultures and traditions, so when you visit a place which is obviously set up to cater for tourists (and you know they are because there’s a fucking cash register selling tickets on the way in!) there should be information readily available… and I don’t mind if the info plaques aren’t in English – Google Translate is so good these days, you can just take a picture and import it and get the general idea. Grrr.. spoiled much?

As we all slow marched down the length of the Buddha and tried not to lose an eye to some oblivious selfie stick wielding tourist, I found myself more fascinated with the artworks on the walls, and columns of the building – they are extremely intricate and no doubt are full of religious iconography that I (as an exceedingly lapsed Catholic type) am really unfamiliar with. These painted frescos are certainly worthy of consideration as artworks in their own right, but 99% of visitors were walking past them either with with their backs to them, or if they did turn to face them, they were looking at their phones and trying to compose their 43rd selfie in that spot! lol. The walls are covered in these beautiful artworks…

Also, for reasons I am not quite sure of, I did find myself somewhat obsessed with the Buddha’s enormous and very precisely crafted feet. They appear to have been made of ebony and mother of pearl and must have taken a huge amount of man hours. I had seen many, many pictures of the Reclining Buddha before – but don’t recall seeing images of his feet! They were enormous and very impressive.

A detail of some of the designs painted on the columns… it seems depictions of Buddha’s life were on the walls of the building and the columns were all adorned in repeating patterns of floral motifs.

On the way out behind the Buddha, there was a place to make a donation to the temple – you could just give them you notes I guess, but instead there are 108 bronze pots lining the wall as you exit. I took a photo of the sign entreating donations, which I translated later. Apparently the 108 pots represent the 108 auspicious characters of Buddha. Visitors trade their notes for a cup full of coins and walk along dropping coins into each of the bowls as it is believed to bring good fortune. The donations also assist the monks in the day to day maintenance of the temple complex – so yes, tangible evidence that putting money into the pots at least brings someone good fortune!

It really is an unusually designed temple complex with beautiful and creative architecture.

I gotta say though, walking around Bangkok in the Outside is not my cup of tea. I’m from Brisbane where we have heat and humidity and I found it draining – I can’t imagine how your average tourist from Manchester in the UK or Minnesota in the US would handle this sort of heat. ‘Feels like 43C, more like!’ At 6pm!

Another very cool stop we made was another rooftop restaurant! There seems to be a bit of a running theme for this trip. We made a booking to go to Akira Back, one of Bangkok’s best rated Japanese restaurants… had to be done. There is only so much Michelin Star Pad Thai Poo that a short blonde can consume in a week! Google it.

The ambiance was really kinda cool, from the muted lighting of the lift lobby that was also somewhat surprisingly adorned with what looked suspiciously inspired by Shibari rope work…

… to the ladies room with the fully glass wall that was sheer drop 28 floors down! It was so freaky I had to call Yale in to investigate. (After making sure the bathroom was empty of course!).

We opted for the Omikaze menu, which weirdly only came with a wine flight, not a saké flight, so we skipped that and bought a nice bottle of saké to go with our dinner, and the food was delicious. Even though I find myself becoming increasingly disappointed with Japanese fusion restaurants adding fucking truffles to Japanese dishes… to me, truffles are a really over powering flavour compared to a lot of the subtle but complex flavours of high end Japanese cuisines. There seems to be a fashion for adding truffles nowadays, it’s happening at home in Australia too.

On the menu was tuna carpaccio with, you guessed it, truffles. Hakodate scallops served with kiwi and strawberry and jalapeño salsa and a garlic and citrus soy sauce, miso Black Cod with yuzu saké foam, special crab miso soup, hot stone grilled Kagoshima Japanese A5 wagu steak with Ishiyaki sauce, shrimp tempura on a Bubu arare cucumber roll, with a grilled eel sauce, and a desert that looked like a banana and a lump of ice cream but which was actually a banana shaped cheese cake! It was obviously designed to be some sort of signature Instagrammable desert, but it was kinda fun – the yellow ‘skin’ of the banana was banana flavoured chocolate and inside was made of a light vanilla style cheesecake, and the usual crumb base seemed to run through the centre of the banana with a slight caramel flavoured syrup. Very novel and fun. All up – was a fabulous dinner out, even with the disappointing truffles. lol.

For special torture, Yale told the restaurant that it was my birthday – and they gave me a fabulous little chocolate cake as a gift…yay?! Chocolate! Bleurk… but Yale was happy, and thankfully they didn’t sing to me.

The view from the restaurant was also just simply amazing…

The only other stand out weirdness that night was a pair of Chinese girls who were beautiful young women, dressed to the nines in fancy designed clobber, dining together who – like me! – were taking photos of the beautifully presented food, but they were celebrating one of their birthdays. I say ‘one of their birthdays’ because for the life of me I couldn’t tell which was the birthday girl – they had provided the kitchen with a very photogenic cake (I mean, it must have been there was soooo many pictures taken of the damn thing) and a large bouquet of tightly arranged pale pink roses – probably two dozen put together like a tight bridal bouquet. Seriously – there’s nothing special about this cake – or this bouquet of flowers…

And they both seem super excited when the cake came out (even though they bought it with them) and the phones were clicking away like mad, and lots of taking each others photos with the cake, and then lining up the flowers in front of the cake and one of them, flowers beside the cake and one of them, flowers behind the cake… and so on. You get the idea. As it happened I had glanced at my watch just as the cake was arriving, and I was enjoying my meal, but also kind of distracted by the over the top, weird arse, photo shoot going on directly in my line of sight. No shit, they must have taken 500 photos EACH of this ordinary looking cake and a possibly pricey bunch of flowers – they were at it for a full 45 minutes. I shit you not. Then, OMG, then… they asked a staff member to some photos for them. Fucking wannabe influencers, man. Give it up! How many pics can you take of a cake and some bloody roses!

Tourists huh? They’re the worst! 😉

Overall, I had a great time in Bangkok, and 10/10 would come back for another visit – though would definitely never want to be visiting in high summer or monsoon season! That shit sounds like it’s for Other People!