KKH and I flew off at 00:20 in the morning. It was a 12 hour flight to Amsterdam and then another 12-13 hours to Guayaquil. It was the first time I took such a long flight to anywhere. The longest I had flown previously was eight hours to China so I wondered if I could stand spending such a long time in the plane. Well, after two hours in flight, I couldn’t wait to get off. I distracted myself by watching movies. It worked for a while but it was hard to ignore all the pains and aches from sitting in a cramped and rather uncomfortable chair for hours. By the time we landed at 7am, I couldn’t wait to get off the plane. Sitting in a cramped position and being unable to move for hours helped to develop a sudden appreciation and passion for walking.
At the Immigration, I was asked a lot of questions, like where am I going, what am I doing in Amsterdam, what is my purpose and what do I intend to do in the city. The counter officer looked at me rather sternly as I answered his questions, making me feel like a little student standing in front of the discipline master. KKH was after me and she had a much easier time. When she reached the counter, the officer only asked her one question.
“Are you together?” he pointed at me.
“Yes,” KKH said and was let through without any further questioning. So unfair.
We took the train to the city and walked around the Amsterdam city center for 8 hours, stopping twice to sit and rest. We reached the city at 8am and most of the shops were still closed. There were very few people on the streets until 10am. That’s when the shops started to open. We had no definite destination in mind and just walked around aimlessly admiring the sights while keeping a lookout for any cheap hotels we could stay at on the way back. We soon learned that people in Amsterdam cycled a lot. There was a dedicated lane for bicycles and motorcycles in between the road and pedestrian lane. In the beginning, we walked in the bicycle lanes by mistake as it was sometimes hard to identify which part was for bicycles and which part was for pedestrians. After some near accidents, we soon learned to tell the difference.
I also saw cars that were almost the same size as a scooter. They were really small and could only fit 2 people or maybe just one very big-sized guy. I guess they were popular because there did not seem to be a lot of parking space in the city.
There were a lot of canals running through the city with boats parked alongside it. Some of them looked like houseboats and some even had gardens.
We had lunch at an open air cafe and shared fish and chips and a burger. The fish and chips were nice and came with a vinegar garlic kind of sauce in addition to ketchup and mayonnaise.
The burger was nice as well. It had a fried egg that oozed a little yolk.
After lunch, we walked to Vondelpark. It was a big park and we saw many people cycling, walking their dogs or sitting on the grass. We decided to follow their example. We picked a spot and sat on the cool grass to read our books. KKH dozed off after a while.
After enjoying the park for a while, it was time to start making our way back to the Amsterdam Centraal Station to catch a train back to Schiphol Airport. Vondelpark was around 3km away from the station. We had plenty of time so we did not hurry. We did not take the most direct route but just wandered around, moving in the general direction of the station.
I stopped for dinner at a cafe near the station. KKH wasn’t hungry so she just had a cup of tea and pinched some food from my plate. The menu was in Dutch so rather than spend time figuring it out, I had the special of the day which was Chicken Tikka Masala. The portion was generous and I couldn’t finish everything on the plate. It tasted pretty okay. I felt that it didn’t use as many spices as Indian cooking back in Singapore.
I also had a cup of tea. I had a pear tea which smelled really nice.
Then it was back to the airport for our flight to Guayaquil. It was another long flight but because I didn’t sleep at all on the way to Amsterdam, I was feeling pretty tired when we were lining up to go through the scanners. I was really glad when we got on the plane and I could sit down and rest. I slept for most of the flight, even skipping the airplane dinner so that I could sleep more. I woke up for breakfast though.
The plane landed in Bonaire where there was a change of crew and everybody had to get off. It was a small airport and there was only a small building. We landed in the wee hours of the morning and there was nothing to do except wait around in the airport. All of us waited in the waiting room which only just big enough to contain all the passengers from the plane. It took around 45 mins to one hour before we were asked to return to the plane. Then it was another two hours or so before we landed in Guayaquil.