I have been away from this blog way for way too long.
What started out as a one-month break from writing to “collect myself together” after somewhat traumatising few months has turned into a ten-month long case of a writer’s block.
My last post was 1 January this year.
In my defense, I did try to come back at the one-month mark. I have an unfinished draft from February as proof – and by “draft” I meant that I clicked on the “new post” button and failed to come up with a title nor a single word to write. I even tried writing about my writer’s block in May, which was supposed to help writers get the words flowing again, but that didn’t help either.
I have even travelled to London (and Birmingham) in the meantime, but even they didn’t inspire me to write again.
It took a trip to my most beloved city Copenhagen to get things started again. The moment I landed at Kastrup Airport, I was miraculously already itching to write.
I have lost count of how many times I have been to the Danish capital. Yet, every single time, Copenhagen still finds new ways to charm me.
I came right at the end of the summer. Or as some people told me when I was there, summer returned for a few days just to greet me.
I know, I know, the title of this post sounds rather absurd. You must be thinking, what is there to survive at the Deer Park (or Dyrehaven in Danish), when it is full of, you guessed it, deer?
I mean, how can creatures who can give such look be even remotely dangerous?
Okay, you are right. There is nothing dangerous about the Deer Park…
Unless you are an occasional moron like me.
When I was moving to Aarhus, Dyrehaven was one of the top items at my to-visit list. But because it was far and hilly to cycle there I was too busy studying, I put it off until my sister and her friend came to visit me in December. I had the perfect excuse to take the bus instead since it was way too cold and my sister and her friend were not accustomed to cycling on the road in the cold.
It took us quite a walk after dropping off from bus 100 from Banegårdspladsen. We passed by several beautiful winter sceneries like this.
When we first caught sight of the deer, it was pretty exhilarating.
But soon we realised something was amiss. The deer came to us for a few seconds, and left, looking dejected. Then they came back again and sniffed at our backpack, and that was when it hit me: we forgot to bring food for them.
These deer, cute as they were, were much more interested in being fed than being pet. What they wanted was not our love, but our food. I felt rather guilty for seemingly coming to trick them, luring them to me, making them think I had some food and then HA! nothing.
But it was a seriously honest, albeit stupid, mistake from our part. I could not even have given them anything even if I wanted to since I had nothing with me (apart from smoked salmon sandwiches on Danish rye bread, but the idea of a bunch of bambis gorging on salmon just seemed barbaric to me that I decided to save the sandwiches for our lunch). I tried hard to apologise in the most deer-like manner as I could. After a while, the leader of the pack seemed to sense that we were a bunch of liars, so he came and showed himself, angry.
After a few more attempts to make friends with the deer, we decided it was best for us to leave. Good thing a couple other visitors came and gave them some food. I felt slightly better that the deer wouldn’t go starving on that dreary winter day.
So my only tip for going to the Deer Park is: bring some carrots or apples with you if you want to leave with a clear conscience, and if you were to forget them, please, for the life of you, don’t dress up like a giant carrot.
I still have a lot of things that I want to write about my trip in December. There is a story about my first encounter with the whales somewhere in the Norwegian Sea, there is something to say about my visit to the charming city of Bergen, or when I somehow found myself in Paris for the last day of 2015 and the first few days of 2016. And I haven’t even talked anything about my (almost) annual ritual of visiting Stockholm yet.
But something happened that completely snatched my attention away from all these things: the arrival of February.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing bad about February. In fact, February is generally an excellent month: a lot of my close friends’ birthdays are in February, Chinese New Year often falls in February, and 2016 is a leap year, how exciting!
There is just one tiny little detail that is different about this year’s February compared to the previous years (apart from the fact that I am spending Chinese New Year away from my family for the first time in my life): I’m moving to a different continent at the end of the month.
It certainly does not feel or seem like it at all since I don’t have anything sorted out for the big move yet. I have no visa (hopefully it is on its way), no flight booked (although I already have a very rough idea which one I am going to take), no accommodation (okay, this is the real problem I think, although I have a few kind souls who are on the lookout for me).
But I’m not here to complain about my administrative problems. Instead, what I’m trying to say is that the realisation that I’m leaving this month brings in another sinking fact: my time in Aarhus from now on can be counted in days.
It felt just like yesterday when I wrote this post about my first impressions of Aarhus just after my arrival here. But when I read through the post again, it felt like ages ago since my first visit to ARoS, when I lost my wallet and found it back thanks to Danish people’s astounding honesty, when interactions with my class mates were mere awkward exchange of conversations with strangers.
But how times have changed. Back then I had no clue that I was going to leave the place so soon and that some of the people here would be very dear to me.
And as for Aarhus, after almost 6 months, I have managed to take the place for granted – for a good few months up until before Christmas, I had formed a view that the place is a mere small ‘city’ where you could get nothing done and nothing much to do – accompanied by perpetually horrible weather which ‘sucked the energy out of you’ (to quote a friend), you would practically want to do nothing else but escape from the rain and get into the comfort of your room (although I have to admit I’m extremely fond and proud of my room – see above picture). For someone who had previously lived her whole life in the world’s capitals (Jakarta, Beijing, Singapore, Copenhagen), I found this change in energy level unexpectedly hard and unsettling.
It was not until my last day in Aarhus in 2015 before I left for Oslo for my trip that I realised I had not taken enough time to appreciate the city and its beauty. I had been so engrossed in my little bubble at the outskirt of the city (hereby known as ‘the countryside’) that I failed to notice some of the beauty it had to offer.
Just a little pause from writing on this blog for this month. In the midst of midterm hiatus and finals looming just around the corner, this blog thus has to take a backseat for now.
In the meantime, enjoy this lovely rainbow over Aarhus on one of my happiest days so far here. It is hard to imagine that this was only last week, since at the moment I am ‘trapped’ in the first snow blizzard for the year in Copenhagen.
I will come back with more updates, that’s a promise!
I grew up in South East Asia where the sun is constantly shining, save for days where there are thunderstorms. There are no seasons – just sunny, rainy or cloudy days (with no chance of meatballs unfortunately), with the sun shining for 10 hours consistently throughout the year. People would complain about the heat and the glaring sunlight, and they would go by all means to avoid them. If you are lucky to live in a country like Singapore for example, you can go pretty far by walking through the network of underground concourses built throughout the country without having to be exposed to the sun at all.
So when I first arrived in Denmark, I came with this sense of entitlement for sunshine – that its presence is given and to be avoided. It was not until I have experienced several continuous gloomy days and had to cycle in the pouring rain on the day I needed to submit my paper that I started having the urge to do everything out in the open when the sun is shining. I start cursing the days when I have to stay in my room to read when the sun is shining. I may have also developed the habit of staring idly at the blue sky in public or stopping after every few metres to take pictures while I’m cycling.
In short, I have grown to love the sun, like a proper Nordic person does.
So it is perfectly understandable that last Sunday when the sky was clear and the sun was shining, I took a very long detour on my way home from badminton – what would have taken 30 minutes ended up to be a 1.5-hour journey. I cycled through the University Park of Aarhus University and decided to park my bike and just take in everything around me.
I am back after more than a month of silence. I haven’t forgotten about this blog, and I haven’t changed a single bit. I have probably been smiling a bit more and have played chess for what possibly is only the third time in my life.
It was not as if I could have forgotten it at a worse timing. The weather was great in Copenhagen, the sky was blue and it is not as if my mind kept drifting to my camera sitting comfortably in my school bag in Aarhus and wondering how great the pictures would turn out with a proper camera.
I guess the only thing I could do was to suck it up and make do with what I had at my disposal.
So here are my attempts to capture one of my favourite cities in the world with nothing but my phone camera.
To me, Copenhagen of course always starts with Nyhavn.
It has been a whirlwind of a time since my last post: I have moved myself more than 14,000 km north from Singapore to this city called Aarhus, a city of just over 300,000 inhabitants, of which 10% are students of Aarhus University. Bringing just two (oversized) suitcases and a (gigantic) backpack (well maybe with a big handbag), I have now pretty much comfortably settled into my dorm room, put up some fairy lights (I am very proud of them), bought my bike, got drenched in the rain a few times, started classes and attended more social functions than my introvert self could handle.
Oh and I have managed to lose my wallet too. In a bar. And I miraculously got it back.
So all in all, it has been extremely eventful first 10 days here in Aarhus, and tonight is the first night that I have had some time on my own to sit down and take in everything that I have experienced so far about this city and my new life here.
Here are some of the more coherent thoughts I came up with after sieving through my brain for a few hours and having taken a look at all the pictures that I have taken so far.
Danish (and non Danish) people are awesome.
From the moment I landed on this land, not a single person has treated me less than awesomely. The Danes may look reserved, but they are unbelievably friendly and helpful. I have had people offering to carry my luggage, walked me to my destination when I asked them for direction, and urm, return me my lost wallet with the content still intact. Not to mention Danish classmates and buddies who have been incredibly enthusiastic in helping us find our way around the city. Apart from that, I have been incredibly lucky to meet wonderful new friends who gave me moral support when I was in dire need of it and provided me with directions when I got lost. I still am amazed by how amazing people have been so far, and that’s one of the main reasons I have been coping well here.
I have so far lived my life believing that I was born to be a jack (or jill?) of all trades. I would be interested in something, learn about it, be somewhat decent at it and move on to new things.
Until I found myself in Copenhagen more than five years ago and fell completely in love with the city. Since then, I found that I can be especially good at something, i.e. travelling back to the same city over and over again just to do the same things that I love.
Till date, I have travelled to Copenhagen on five different occasions, and I have met the Crown Prince of Denmark (here we go again), which is why I think I am properly qualified to give my opinion on what the best things to do in this city are.
So here are my personal favourites, in random order.
Take a stroll at Nyhavn
My absolute favourite place, and this lovely harbour has been featured numerous times in this blog. Walking to Nyhavn from Kongens Nytorv Metro Station is like finding a colourful surprise after a somewhat gray (albeit beautiful) stroll at the heart of Copenhagen.
In my opinion, Copenhagen is one of the most underrated cities in the world.
From time and again, I still get questioning look from people whenever I say that Copenhagen is one of my favourite cities in the world. Some even go so far as asking, “Where is Copenhagen again? Is it in Europe?”.
That’s how underrated this city, and Denmark is. The city where the famous statue of Little Mermaid is situated. The capital city of where the world renowned writer Hans Kristian Andersen came from. The city where Carlsberg brewery can be found (everyone must have heard of Carlsberg, surely!). The city which hosts the headquarter of Maersk, the biggest shipping company in the world. The capital city where LEGO, the world-renowned toy company, comes from. The city where Noma, the world’s #1 restaurant is! I mean come on people. Either I only care about things that no one else in the world cares about, or most people are simply ignorant, or Denmark has the worst marketing team ever.
And now, I shall add one more thing to the already long list of why Copenhagen is amazing: the city has many cafés with some of the best brunches that I have ever had.
Now, brunches aren’t really my thing, so I wouldn’t call myself a brunch guru. But I have had enough of them, especially in Singapore, where they are simply unimpressive. Brunches are always overpriced for the portion that they serve and most cafés, at least in Singapore, only focus on decorating the place and making the food presentation pretty (so they can charge a premium to it) without paying much attention to how it actually tastes (there are exceptions of course).
But I remember being very impressed with Copenhagen brunches, at least those few that I have tried. Or perhaps I was just being biased about this city as usual. But who cares, here are the list of my favourite brunch cafés in Copenhagen (note: it’s all of them):