Tim's Blog

The city that never smiles
Dramatic night shot of canals of Amsterdam taken at 1.08am.Amsterdam is one place that doesn't use the smile reflex often enough. For example, I have yet to meet a front counter staff in Amsterdam who greets you or even asks how they can help. They just stare at you like automatons. I can see how you might be tempted to think,"Hey, it's you! You're always giving off don't-even-look-at-me vibes.". But it isn't just me. They do it with every one, even the Dutch speakers.

But I can't really blame the locals. This place is so overwhelmed by tourists. I can imagine how marginalised and isolated they feel especially when the city administrators constantly make decisions for the good of the tourists and not the residents. Such as holding back the upgrading of the communications system in centraal Amsterdam for fear of disrupting the downtown tourist trade and piece-meal upgrade of the roads for the same reason.

There are so many American tourists here I had to ask three times for directions before I got a local to point me in the right direction. The map I got didn't show most of the streets and had labelled many of the streets wrongly. I guess the map makers must have had an equally difficult time keeping up with the odd road constructions in Amsterdam.

But I'll give Amsterdam this: the night life is excellent!

I slept till 8pm after getting back to the Princess Hotel and left shortly after with my camera. I quickly found that it wasn't safe to take photos at night. The streets were rife with drug dealers and I didn't want to get caught accidently catching one of them in a shot.

I spent last night wandering around the neon streets until after midnight, lights and 80s disco music blaring on all sides of me. The air was thick with ganja and cigar smoke from the open windows of the coffeeshops. I swear there's more tobacco here than in Cuba. It was almost a surreal experience eating hot tongue-burning fritters and mayonnaise while doing my window shopping in the biting cold. I felt giddy, but I think that had partly to do with inhaling the ganja expellants.

No one offered me a drink or a joint. And I probably wouldn't have accepted. As a rule I never accept free stimulants unless I had back-up somewhere in the vicinity. A few of the drunks stared at me as though I were an oddity not being red-faced or walking with a lilt. I've been told that stimulants are wasted on me because I'm too much of a tight-arse so I've never been able to relax even when I'm drunk or stoned on grass or ecstacy.

posted at 05:28:23 PM on 06/14/2001 by timyang - Category: General


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