The little great things of Tromsø.

As much as I think that the Northern Lights are one of the most incredible natural phenomena, I find it a pity that Tromsø is known for simply that – a gateway to see the Northern Lights. There seems to be very little else known about the city – most people out of the Nordic countries have never even heard of its name before, when in fact this place has so much to offer and is absolutely gorgeous.

I was guilty of exactly that – I came here aiming and caring for nothing but seeing the coveted aurora borealis. And knowing my tendency to not do any proper research before visiting a city (in a bid to be pleasantly surprised), I almost had no idea what was waiting for me at the largest town in Northern Norway.

Not only did Tromsø pleasantly surprise me, but it also took my breath away with its Arctic city charm. There is no earth-shatteringly famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Colosseum in Rome, or the Buckingham Palace in London. Instead, what Tromsø boasts is its own existence: a cold place in the Arctic with 24-hour darkness for a few weeks in the winter, the midnight sun in the summer, and of course the occasional visits of the Northern Lights. It is also nestled on a beautiful landscape with both mountains and the sea decorating its view – together with the city lights emanating from the houses, it makes for an absolutely breathtaking sight.

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The warm city lights contrasting with the white snow are possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

Despite not visiting any museums nor tourist attractions when I was there, I left the city being charmed endlessly. Tromsø showered us with many little things that made every moment so precious.

And it started the moment we landed at the Tromsø Airport.

Being greeted by Father Christmas.

My trip started rather horribly with me losing my luggage at the Oslo airport (due to my supreme idiocy). But it was instantly cured the moment I stepped into the airport building as we were welcome by the sight of this familiar guy waving at us.

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It was a much needed warm welcome to our coldest destination; naturally, we couldn’t leave without taking a picture with him.

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I’m pretty sure he was smiling underneath that big beard.

Continue reading “The little great things of Tromsø.”

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A crazy month that was December.

I realised that this turned out to be a very long post, so I have decided to give subtitles to each event (it must be the influence of all the academic writing that I had to do last semester) and you can just pick which of these interest you the most. I could have broken these into a few posts, but I think it is paramount to put them all together to show what a month it had been.

Happy New Year!

First thing first, I figured that most of you would probably not realise that I have updated the ‘about missruslee‘ page, so do check it out!

Now that it is January, I feel I can very safely talk about December last year (!!!). Some people might refer to the month as a series of unfortunate events for me, but I prefer, as I told a friend of mine who faced similar predicaments at one point in the month, to think of it as Murphy’s law being at its full force and me somehow having guardian angels in the form of strangers, neighbours and classmates.

So here goes, in chronological order:

The Prequel

To be fair, it was not entirely December’s doing. It probably started some time late November when, for reasons only the dear bus driver knows, the Aarhus Airport Bus decided to leave without me even though I was already dragging my luggage to board the bus. It was probably the first panic attack that I have had in years, when it sank on me that there was a real chance that I could have missed my flight to Copenhagen, which would mean that I would have missed my connecting flight to Shanghai, which would mean that I would have had to miss my best friend’s wedding where I was the maid of honour.

But I made it to the flight in the end. In the midst of my panic attack, two very kind strangers saw what happened (including me running after the bus with my luggage flailing), approached me, and sorted things out for me. They called a taxi, and one of them waited for me until the taxi arrived to explain the situation to the driver (since I was in no condition to speak due to the said panic attack), and the driver assured me that I would still make it for my flight and I would be compensated by the Airport Bus company for the cost of the taxi (which amounted to a whopping DKK 567 or USD 82, unheard of for me even if I decided to take a tour of Singapore in a cab).

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Still can’t believe I made it.

The Flight Delay

I think I was not destined to take the airport bus during that trip. On the way back to Aarhus, my flight from Beijing to Copenhagen was delayed by more than an hour due to the horrible weather in the capital of China.

Continue reading “A crazy month that was December.”

Amsterdam: a different kind of déjà vu.

Every time I travel, I discover a new reason why I love travelling.

Everyone knows that I’m addicted to travelling, but no one, including myself, can really explain why. There are many reasons to it for sure, and I guess it is a continuous self discovery process. I started out thinking that perhaps it is because I love looking at new sights, the famous landmarks that I have only seen in movies or heard people talk about. And it could have very well started out that way when I first set my foot in a foreign land on my own as a wide-eyed girl discovering new places. However, my last trip to Amsterdam a couple of weeks back made me rethink of this notion – that there is definitely something else to travelling that makes it so dear to me, apart from simply seeing new famous places.

Before the said trip, my first visit to Amsterdam was six years ago. It was my first travel out of Denmark when I was studying abroad in Copenhagen. And back then I liked the place alright, but apart from the Mexican burger and the Samurai fries we had there, nothing made quite an impression on me to make me want to visit the city again.

So when the offer came to go for a road trip to Amsterdam a couple of weeks ago, I jumped at the opportunity not because I was in love with the place and had been having the urge to visit again, but more because of the company and the spontaneity of the situation (we came up with the idea on a Wednesday night and left for the 10-hour drive on Friday morning).

However, something startled me when we reached Amsterdam. When our car entered the city centre, my breath was taken away immediately by the sights of the canals. And when we were walking on the lamp-lit streets by the water, I started to wonder how in the world I could have not fallen in love with the city the first time I went there.

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A walk in the park.

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.

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Copenhagen on mobile.

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.

I'm not really playing chess here though.
And WIZARD chess too!

But other than those, I am still the same. I still love to travel, write, chocolates and cakes. I am also still as forgetful as ever. Remember the time when I wrote about how I still don’t know how to pack properly even after having done extensive travelling over the past few years? Well I still don’t. And during my last weekend trip to Copenhagen, I managed to add to the impressive list of things that I have forgotten to pack: my camera.

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.

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Aarhus, first impressions.

Well, where do I begin?

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.

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My new home.

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.

Continue reading “Aarhus, first impressions.”

Kuala Lumpur, this time.

Kuala Lumpur, we often rubbed each other the wrong way.

Five years ago, we met after a very long time and I was frustrated by the chaos of your traffic and the craziness of your city. Which was ironic because I came from the city with probably the worst traffic condition in the world. Needless to say, it was partly my fault – I was too pampered after living in the orderly Singapore for a year, where everything works the way it should.

Last year, I travelled far for you, for a festival that got cancelled the moment I arrived after a six-hour bus ride. Not to mention that my bus broke down for three hours in the middle of nowhere on my way back to Singapore. If not for my company at the time, it was probably my worst trip ever.

So I have to be honest. I was not looking forward to seeing you again last week.

But this time, you surprised me. This time, you were gorgeous.

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Continue reading “Kuala Lumpur, this time.”