Jump-Starting a City Girl on Wheels

Exactly 2 weeks now. I guess it’s time for an update on what I’ve learned so far.

It’s been a long, tiring and busy week. I feel like I’ve been put in a boot camp for an aggressive jump-start training to live like a real dutch. The things I did this week isn’t something that I’ve not done before, that is the reason why I use the phrase jump-start. I’m like an old engine that’s been stalled and need to be awaken quickly by jump-starting for a quick run on a new path. I know I’ve exaggerated and if Jos read this he will say : “Drama Queen!”

Like I’d said, these things I’m made to do isn’t something I’ve never done before. I just haven’t done them the same way I had to do here in the Netherlands. So you asked, then it’s not difficult! Well, yes it is not difficult but then it requires more focus and attention which would mean I would have to work on my brain which was then sleeping before the training started. Be aware, these are things that would pose life threatening if I lose my focus. You will agree when you read on. Anyway, now imagine jump starting the brain and the body system at the same time? It was hard. 🙂

When I arrived in the Netherlands last week, all I want to do was to grief over the family and friends I left behind in Singapore. So I did not really want to move my butt to be exact. I just wanted to do nothing. But now, I guess I’m ready for a whole new adventure. Take me on!

The Dutch and Their Bikes

As you are aware, dutch goes almost anywhere and everywhere with their bikes. And when I said bikes I really mean Bicycle not the Motor ones. The first day I landed in Amsterdam, I was overwhelmed by the amount of bikes in Amsterdam City. They were fast, they were furious. I was almost hit by a bike while trying to cross the street in Amsterdam. And no, I’m not being dramatic. 🙂

Jos was eager for me to live like a dutch I can tell.  Being a Dutch man who can be unromantic and straight forward, no I’m joking, he is a totally romantic guy. I think I’m the unromantic one. Anyway, the point I was getting at was this; when I had my birthday celebration last week, I already knew what I would get for my birthday from him. And I was right, it was none other but a BIKE! Romantic much? 🙂

My Red & Almost White Bike

I’m joking, It was indeed a nice surprise as I was expecting the bike much later. He traveled all the way to north of Amsterdam (approximately 2 hour drive – back and forth) just to make sure he gets me going on the bike before he leaves for his business trip. The bike was a nice red with a tinge of white. I like it very much because it kinda represents the color of my home country flag (Singapore). But I was a little disappointed because when I sat on the bike, my feet can barely touch the ground. I can feel my toes stretching out and finally touch the ground with the tip of it. So as such, I was not comfortable. I learn to ride a bicycle when I was a child, riding a bicycle is easy, why would anyone be scared? But what stressed me out was riding a bicycle next to cars, I’ve only ride on a bike in a park. Casual biking.. nothing serious. Plus, imagine, I step on the brake, my feet care barely touch the ground, I could easily fall right? And imagined if the bike lane is like this (See below) will you still ride a bike with those mentioned fear?

Crazily Narrow!

Well, since this is a boot camp week, Jos didn’t care if I was scared. He managed to persuade me anyway; I went on the bike. Not once but many times, it was scary but went alright. Now, Applause for me will ya? Thank you! 😀

My final ride on the bike this week was yesterday morning before Jos leave for his business trip. As he promised a bouquet of flowers for me every Saturday, he had to make me ride to the market in town to get them with him. So I did, and I even had those pretty flowers on the crate in front of my bike. So dutch.. can you imagine that? Yes, really sweet. But sweetness ends when a guy dash out with his bike. Although I’ve saw that happening, I wasn’t sure of what I was suppose to do. Yes, I’m suppose to step the brake and stop but for that split moment, I just couldn’t make myself do that. I reckon now, I was really afraid I would fall because I cannot stand on the ground when the bike stop due to my short leg, thank you. Anyway, I crash right at his bike. It wasn’t really a bad crash, I just had sore knee with a slight bump. Now imagine I crash into a car. It’s freaky, don’t you think? Alright, I’m being dramatic again.

Driving on the Right; Sitting on the Left 

I’ve drove in Singapore. In fact, I’m quite a good driver, all my friends will agree. ahem. Thank you. So why would it be scary to drive in the Netherlands? That’s because Netherlands is left hand drive on the right lane. I’ve drove once last year during my short visit here and went on the left lane facing a truck right in front of me! I will not forget what Jos said to me at that moment. He said “Jess, I wanna live.” Even he was scared with me driving on the right lane, because i can easily hit some trees on the right or fall into the drain.

Anyway, this time, Jos didn’t care. Same thing, he wanted me to get on the wheels, (this time – 4 wheels) as soon as possible so I can pick him up from the airport when he returns next week. So I drove, not once but many times. Jos happen to live in an apartment with a very very narrow entrance to the car park. It was so narrow that every car has to close the side mirror before making it’s entrance so that it is left with one inch on both side to slide the car in for a parking lot. It is almost crazy for me because it’s only an inch. The first few rounds was tedious but I survived, I did NO scratch on both side of the car.

I got used to driving after few tries and in fact I kind of enjoyed it. The navigation system in the A3 was amazing. She speaks to me and tells me when to turn and at which exit to take. It was nice to have the navigation system, however, in my opinion, the dutch road system is very clear and straight forward. I should manage the highways without the navigation, i reckon. After sometime, I believe this navigation Lady might be too annoying to be turn on.

Anyway, I managed to send Jos to the airport with Jan sitting next to me just to make sure I don’t lose my way. After we dropped Jos off, we even went to Den Haag for a very nice Turkish Dinner. Job well done and ends with a nice meal. It was delicious. Maybe I was hungry as well. Oh, while driving to Den Haag, I saw a bright flash light and then to realize I wasn’t driving at  an appropriate speed. Let’s now hope Jos don’t receive a ticket from the traffic police. 😛

To choose between 2 wheels and 4 wheels, I will go everywhere with 4 instead of 2. Driving is whole lot more fun and easy.

Last but not least, before I sign off, check this out: 🙂