Monday, 12 August 2013

Orange

Probably the only day the colour orange was in vogue.

The first orange I saw was when I was on the plane en route to Amsterdam. I was in mid-air and at 8pm, the sun had just set and the rays of the sun were peeking through the tiny aeroplane windows. "How nice," I thought. At least it wouldn't be too dark when I reach the city. 

Out of all the cities, Amsterdam was the one place I was looking forward to the most - Quaint houses, beautiful canals and great culture all rolled into one. And it was also one of the places people have warned me about. There's the prostitution in the red light district and the open selling of drugs in coffee shops. It was also Queen's Day on the day of my arrival so the city was bound to be crowded. Let's hope it doesn't sound as chaotic as Alex, my hostel mate in Avignon makes it out to be.

I arrived at Amsterdam Schipol Airport at about 9.33pm. I grabbed my luggage, took the train to Amsterdam Centraal station and reached at about 10.15pm. 

The city was chaotic and packed with people wearing orange - hats, scarves, party spectacles, jackets and even a jumpsuit. The streets were crowded and people were singing and dancing around. Everyone was in a celebratory mood. Well, almost everyone but me. What is a girl like me doing alone with her backpack at night?! It didn't help as I kept conjuring up images of what the worst could happen to me. Besides, the words of my Alex kept ringing in my head.

There were no trams in the main area, which meant no public transport available for me to get to the south side of my hostel. Being really terrified of walking in the dark in an unknown place, I was left with three options - Return to Schipol airport and sleep there, get a taxi to bring me to my hostel or grab any hotel and stay there for the night. 

Eventually, I decided to take the taxi there and was persuaded by the police officers to take the subway and tram instead. After queuing up for about 15 minutes for the ticket, I took the subway to Weesperplein station. The trains were equally crowded as more people boarded and headed off to their party destination. It got crowded at one point so I could not get out and missed my stop as a result. 

By the time I got out, switched trains and reached the right station, it was about 11.05pm. Yet, the night was still young for the Dutch. People were still walking around liberally and shouting at the top of their lungs. 

After asking for more directions, I boarded the tram and reached my stop. But alas! It was not over because I still had to navigate my way to my hostel in the dark! I asked for more directions from people on the street (and had to do so with wary and weary eyes) and eventually reached my hostel close to midnight. I can't describe the feeling. It was relief mostly, but also joy and a sense of pride mixed together. I honestly couldn't think of anything at that moment because I was too tired. But it was mostly a feeling of homesick. I dozed off to sleep immediately after lying on my bed, feeling happy that a great weight was lifted from my shoulders. 

I never want to be in such a terrifying situation again. 

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