April 3rd, 2014

happy girl

A new chapter.

After two days of running around, frantically packing and doing last-minute dropping off of coats at friends' places and exchanging things mistakenly bought at House of Fraser, and trying to pack all the clutter and things that I have accumulated over 1.5 years in London into two suitcases and three boxes, I have finally arrived in The Hague.

I am beyond exhausted right now. I woke up at 7.20am to wash my sheets so that I can store them away and I had so many things to carry on the way here that I could really fall asleep right about now. It has been a very harrowing journey indeed: unsurprisingly, my attempt to pack everything that I want to have with me here (which is pretty much 90% of my entire non-winter wardrobe) into my huge suitcase backfired on me - big time. It, of course, did not at all help that the study materials for the first part of the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme test (which I will take on July 10) weighed about 100 kilos. My poor taxi driver (I took a taxi to Victoria Station; couldn't imagine lugging all that weight on the bus) said, "You've got a ton of bricks in here!" when he helped me carry it down the stairs of my old flat and into the boot of his car. I guess I did myself no favours either by packing five pairs of shoes...to be fair, only two of them were of substantial weight, so the main culprit was really the bloody QLTS study materials.

My suitcase ended up weiging 36 kilos. The British Airways woman told me, quite flatly, that the airlines didn't accept baggages beyond 32 kilos, and that I could just buy a new suitcase and check in an additional baggage. After some consideration, I went with that suggestion and my big suitcase ended up weighing 22 and the small one...21. Amazing. Amazing. I dumped all the QLTS stuff in there, plus all my toiletries (things I bought in London but hadn't used), and the 4 books that I packed. And some clothes, of course. I bought the cheapest suitcase. On top of that, I had an additional big hand carry bag, plus my tennis bag which contained my handbag and my tennis racquet, AND my laptop.

God, it was horrible. The worst thing about moving to another country is when you're moving from somewhere which isn't your permanent country of residence. I stored my things with a storage company and even then I didn't have enough space to keep everything, and so I ended up sacrificing all my hangers, my vacuum cleaner, my rugs, my River Island handbag which I'd used for 1.5years...etc. I told the maintenance guy at the apartment to keep my printer for me which he said he'd do - which I gathered as much 'cause he was always friendly with me. I hope he did it because I really didn't want to throw it away. Oh, and my plate and bowl, which I bought in House of Fraser at Westfield Shepherd's Bush with my parents when I first got to London. I felt this sentimental pang of unwillingness when I had to throw stuff that I bought with my parents or which I brought from home; but as all things, not thinkng about it will definitely do the trick.

I was too busy and stressed out to think about the fact that I was leaving London, leaving my Edgware Road flat, and moving to a completely new place; but mostly about the fact that I was leaving London. I love the city. I love its vibrance, its history, its multiculturalism, its hidden places that only locals know about, the general politeness and sometimes friendliness of its inhabitants. I love the familiarity that I felt in the midst of strangeness: I knew the city and yet I didn't know it because it is so big that there were many, many places that I'd never been to. When I was on the bus from Oxford Street to Euston (73, I think it was), it occurred me to that I'd never been down Tottenham Court Road - and just that stretch of road provided a subtle but still palpable different appearance of London. It felt grittier and quite unlike the clean, ordered chaos of Oxford Street. London is just so big and interesting that it's still full of surprises after 1.5years there and I know for sure that I will miss it. I already do.

Right now, I'm sitting in the small room that I'm temporarily in until the tenant occupying the room that I will move into leaves in May, and it's quiet. No traffic noise, no police sirens, no ambulance wailing. I got a bit sick of the traffic noise, but it made me feel like I was a part of a bigger population of other people - especially during my first few weeks in London when my parents had left and the loneliness hit me really, really hard. The quietness will take some getting used to, and so will the slower pace of life, I'm sure.

This flat is pretty nice. It's apparently 100 years old. The living area is gorgeous but the landlady is quite sticky about having people in there so I probably won't be in it much. I was lucky that the tenant had to be at Schipol Airport, so I met him there and he helped me with my stuff. I would've died if I had to carry all that by myself.

The area that I'm living in is quite visually appealing; the tenant - his name is Kat (Cantonese; he's from Hong Kong) - told me that it's full of old people. I haven't seen any cafes yet but there's a big supermarket and a bakery, so it should be good. Fingers crossed.
happy girl

(no subject)

I spent my day shopping for office attire and drinking coffee while reading Edward Said. I tried on a few blazers from Mango and Zara and hated all of them; then randomly walked into H&M, randomly tried on a blazer from their essentials line, and surprisingly loved it. The best part is, it's only 29.95 euros.

I need to buy shoes tomorrow and get a Dutch SIM card.

While I didn't spend a whole lot of time exploring it properly, the city centre was pretty dull. It was a normal globalised shopping area with the usual shops. The only interesting thing that I stumbled upon was this English cafe called Kensington...and hearing the British accent was oddly comforting.

I came back to the house at about 6pm with the aim of getting dinner around the house but oh my god, there was nothing to eat. There was a pub, a couple of fancy-looking restaurants which were obviously beyond my budget, and a supermarket. It made me miss Pret a Manger and even the kebab/fish and chips shops on Edgware Road.

Going to the supermarket was also extremely challenging. I mistakenly bought a bottle of sparkling water because everything is in Dutch and I know absolutely zero Dutch words. I also had to pay 25 cents for a stupid shopping bag; the stupid cashier didn't even ask if I wanted one, which would've been the sensible thing to do considering I had a basket full of things and I was only carrying a handbag. The lack of self-checkout was also quite disconcerting.

I was not satisfied at all with the two lattes that I had today, so I googled 'good coffee The Hague' and found a grand total of one cafe (granted, I didn't look past the first 7 results, but I stopped looking when I saw 'coffee shops in Amsterdam' - coffee shops being places where one smokes weed, of course). The upside is that it's pretty near where I live and if I'm not wrong, it's one tram stop before the city centre stop, so I'm definitely stopping by tomorrow.

Speaking of the tram - the arrival times can actually rival the bus arrival times in Singapore for utter inaccuracy. I arrived at the tram stop in the city centre and saw that my tram would reach in 4 minutes. It came after 10 minutes. For the first time in a long time, I genuinely missed the Tube.