Sep 27, 2008

A forbidden love: Siding Germany

"I hope my trip mates would understand, that this Europe trip for me,
is not only about sigh-seeing and then shopping,
but I don't want them to ask the question like "if not, then what?",
because I can't even give them an answer
-- like my insistence to visit Berlin,
I don't have an answer for what I insisted for..

in fact, I'm still trying to figure out that funny tingling inside me,
that hold my belief, telling me I just need to go to Berlin..

.... maybe it's nothing, it's just me.."

-- 10 August, 2008
Czech time: 0742 hrs; Germany time: 0742 hrs; Malaysia time: 1342 hrs
The train stopped at Usti nad Cabem, heading to Berlin

I left Prague and headed to Berlin, Germany, 6 in the morning and all alone.

And later I was made to understand that, my decision and my move caused some consequences that I just have to bear, until today...

..because my decision to travel alone, was forbidden...


'No man zone' refers to the zone between East Berlin and West Berlin. It was called 'No man zone', because no man can actualy exist there..

...because only dead body will exist there.

Entering 'No man zone' was forbidden.


No one loves to be left behind. That's what they told me, so you don't leave your comrades behind, don't leave your friends behind, don't leave your family behind.

What about dream? I asked, feeling that I might be a little bit of selfish, hearing her voice in my head, "meet me on the other side, meet me on the other side.."


When I finaly came before the remnant of Berlin walls in East Side Gallery, I sighed.

How many longing souls used to put their hand on the east side of the wall and look up, hoping or even planning to get across it? And how many hopeful souls were shot dead in their attempt to get across the Berlin Wall and pass through to 'No man zone'?

Why did they do that?


"..Why do you do this?" She asked, the trrain just left Dresden Hbf, heading to Dresden-Neustadt. I was already in the realm of East German.

"... I mean, traveling alone.." She tried so hard to put it politely.. I understood what's her real question.

" mean, why did I leave my trip mates behind?"

She knodded. The train rumbled, and moving ahead.


On August 23, 1961, the last border crossing open to West Berlin was closed.

Berlin wall separated families, friends, lovers, jobs, and cut off the daily life of East and West Berliners.

For East Berliner, getting into West Berlin, getting back to their families, their friends, their loved ones, their jobs and their life, had suddenly became a dream, a deadly dream.


I smiled. I forgot her name, but she's the first German I met when I entered Germany. We shared a same cabin, on the day train from Praque to Berlin.

"... when you started getting comfortable -- too comfortable with your current situation, you just need to get away from there.." I was not sure she'd understand.

"indeed.. dreams always lie beyond comfortable zone." She mumbled, not looking at me, as if she was talking to her own.

I was stunned.


Dreams always lie beyond comfortable zone. How sad. And that's why there comes the word 'forbidden', I guess.

Living a life that I want, loving someone that I love, doing things that I wish for, going places that I care, etc etc -- it could end up like climbing Berlin Wall -- I could be shot dead in the 'No man zone', before I eventually reach my dream land.

Because dreams always lie beyond the comfortable zone; and getting away from comfortable zone, is forbidden, because someone out there will feel uncomfortable about the idea.

Sad enough, no?

ps..: I-dun-know-what-kind-of-detail-do-u-want detail:

1. Train Praque to Berlin: CZK 1235.00, Take off from Prague at every 2 hours, start from 6:36am. About 5 hours ride.

2. Train Berlin to Frankfurt: 100 euro!! 6 hours ride.

3. East Side Gallery was constructed along Muhlenstrate. 118 artists from 21 countries painted here in 1990 to celebrate the falling of Berlin Wall. East Side Gallery is the longest remaining portion of Berlin Wall, i.e. 1.3 km long.

4. Accomodation: Berlin: Wombat Berlin (Go Wombat, GO!); Frankfurt: Haus de Jugend / House of Youth -- a youth hotel under Hoteling International (H.I.) organisation. Clean and nice place, but far away from public transportation.

5. Berlin's museums are world class, if you have no problem visiting museum, grab a subject you want to know about Germany/ Berlin, then study them from museum! Recommed: Pergamonmuseum, Berlin.

6. You should pay Sony Centre a visit when you're in Berlin.

7. There're free guide tours happen all around in Berlin. I would highly recomend New Berlin Tours, have a look at their schedule and plan your tour -- it's way insightful and informative if you have their vast knowledge and engaging personalities explain the history of Berlin. ..and don't be stingy when come to give some tips to your helpful tour guide.

pss... "I spent all my Ramadhan blogging bout my tour! " Europe-Final-Say:

1. I'm sorry for blogging something really personal bout my entire journey in Europe, but while expecting I'd get lots of readers walked away from my blog, I surprisingly received new visitors dropping messages to me -- Thank you!!

2. Don't worry, no more europe posting after this -- at least for this year. And please don't think I traveled so much as if I am part of the team of Lonely Planet or Travel & Living TV Crew -- I mean, I wish to, but I'm not.. *wink wink* to Rean.

3. Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Maaf Zahir Batin to all my friends!!

Sep 14, 2008

An affair: Dobry-Den Czech

"Part of the reasons that this journey
is going to be remembered,
is the learning,
and the growing up"

-- 9 August, 2008,
Prague time: 0811 hrs; M'sia time: 1411 hrs
Metro 'C' train from Nadrazi Holesovice to I.P. Pavlova

Believe it or not, there's a vision that differentiates a city from another by colors.

From Austria to Czech Republic, the colors changed. Austria is glory white and refreshing green, came to Prague of Czech Republic, my vision changed to brownish maroon and dark yellow

-- those earthy range of colors define a Prague in me: A gypsy.

I think I'm lucky to have this special type of vision. And I think I am lucky in Czech as yellow is always my lucky color.


I used to compare Czech Republic to Austria once I stepped into Prague, and she got me disappointed. But when night fell and four of us were strolling on the ever famous Charles Bridge or Karluv Most, I felt the pulse of Prague beating mine.

...and then I realized that I was wrong about Czech.

Czech's charm is totally different from Austria's elegance. Czech is a free-spirited gypsy, spontaneous, wild, daring, passionate and always happy -- you need to get close to her and get involve into her life to feel her charm ...

...and I think I was lucky to perceive that at the very first night I was in Prague, before letting the tiredness and exhaustion of our trip overwhelmed my sense towards a journey of inner-self discovery..


Do you really have a feeling of being 'lucky'? I did, and I did not, on Charles Bridge.

From Charles Bridge Museum I obtained the legendary and mythical story about St John of Nepomuk who was thrown into Vlata River by Wenceslaus, King of Romans. From the description too I was told where the statue of St John of Nepomuk is along the bridge, as well as the location, along the bridge, where the people found his body in River Vlata.

By memorizing the order of the statues along the right side of Charles Bridge, I squezed myself through the huge crowd on the bridge while keeping track on the number of the statues I passed by, until I reached before the portion of the bridge that was under maintanence.

The under maintenence portion was fenced, and the statue of St John of Nepomuk was right the first statue inside the fence. It was a relief to finally find it, with some roses that visitors tied on the fence to salute him.

I thought I was lucky to be able to still have a look at the statue, but a worker of the construction side told me that I wasn't lucky because "you should rub on the plate under the statue, and it'll make you lucky.."



Finaly I got caught for using a 24-hours rail pass for more than 24 hours.

I thought I was smart enough to break the rule. The rule is, once we purchase a rail pass, we need to verify it by stamping the time and date on it by ourselves, so that the 24-hour validity will start counting from the time stamped.

Thinking that "as long as the time and date is not stamped on the ticket, then the ticket won't have any expiry date", I decided to take the risk. And to cut the long story short, I got caught and was fined at an amount of Czech Crown which was way far more expensive than to buy another 24-hour rail pass.

To be very frank I wasn't pissed off as I knew very well that I deserved the fine. And it was my big brother Fariz's comment that made me felt lucky, again, in Prague, Czech Republic.

He said, "You are guarded, Man, everytime."


"Dobry-den" is "Hello" in Czech.

We tried to learn the local language everytime we checked into a new country, but Czech language is obviously hard for us as the language is NOT that common as Italian and German (Austrian uses German language).

However, I quickly picked up the Czech's greeting when a little boy greeted Fariz and I when we were hanging out on the lovely Karluv Most, and the little 'Dobry-den' made the rest of my day.

Until today I still can easily recall the face and the tone of that little boy, shyly greeted us "Dobry-den"; and until today, I still believe that 'Dobry-den' is not as simple as a 'Hello'. I think the word mixed in a magic potion of gypsy, when they greet their friends with this magical word, they made their friends happy and lucky..


Gypsies are optimistic people. Their life is tough but they take it very positively, because they believe being happy is what life about.

Embracing all the ups-and-downs of life with pure and good heart, being passionate and enthusiastic to life... that bring them good luck and happiness.

At the moment Fariz told me that I'm always guarded, I really felt that I wanted to give him a hug.

Because he let me understood that, I'm so lucky to have that 'somebody' from above to look after me. That 'somebody' -- that Almighty Him -- has been keeping an eye at me, to make sure I'm always stay on the right path, and never deviated.

.. and I'm lucky too, to have a big brother like Fariz, although sometime his 'parental control' is kinda boring. ;P *PEACE* ... (I sneakily called him 'principal' in front of Shahrina and Amir throughout the trip.. and I think you know why...*DOUBLE PEACE* ;P )

ps..: I-dun-know-what-kind-of-detail-do-u-want detail:

1. We lodged at Czech-Inn. Believe me it is STILL a budget hostel eventhough the standard of this 'inn' is as high as any 3-4 stars hotel in Malaysia.

2. Prague is full with artists. You can choose to buy your souvenirs from any souvenir shops which offer you some common and low-quality stuff, or you can actually go straight to an artist and see what he/she got to get some exclusive and lovely stuff as souvenir.

3. Bohemian crystal (?) is cheap here, I think, judging from how much time and money Shahrina and Amir spent when purchasing.

4. If you're a drinker, they said Czech home-made beer is 'unique'..

5. Always beware of the closing time of the places you wish to visit. Most places close at 5pm local time.

6. Prague Hard Rock is just opened there!

7. Photos of the charming Prague is already in my flickr!!

Sep 7, 2008

A true love: Connecting Austria

"The Mozart's concert in Palaiz Aungsberg did not get me bored,
it was me not paying attention on them....
some questions kept bothering me throughout the concert:
What do I see from Austria?
What do I learn from Austria?
.. definitely, Austria do not teach me how to appreciate classical music,
not that for sure..."

-- 5 August, 2008,
Vienna time: 2308 hrs; M'sia time: 0508 hrs (6 Aug.)
Wombat The Base, Vienna.

At this point of time, I still miss Austria.

Especially in the month of Ramadhan, I appreciate what Salzburg and Vienna gave me during my trip to Austria.

What Austria gave me, was a reason for being who I am and what I am now, a reason for holding my faith.

This year's Ramadhan, I need to be more and more mentally prepared than of previous years, to stay firm on what I believed so far about fasting together with all my Muslim friends during the holy month of Ramadhan.

This year, I received quite a frequent of unexpected discouragements from people around me -- from people whom I know so well, to people whom I don't know at all. And that was really pathetic and sad, and to be frank, those critics really let me down, for not even once.

Maybe this is what my Muslim friends mean by the dugaan, the challenges, that happened during this holy month -- it's a test from The Almighty -- so we have to stay strong. I used to perceived my fasting month as an endurance test, but this time I think it involves faith as well...

..and thank to Austria that helped me in keeping my faith.

Autria is no doubt a beautiful and charming country, but what made me so deeply fell in love with her, was not simply due to its beauty and charm. I wrote something like this in my journal during my wander in this country:

"It is the fine and classy touch that define Salzburg's grace; It's the deluxe and royal aura that define Vienna's elegance; it's something beneath those splendour that define the atmosphere of Austria... but what is it?"

What is it?

I insisted to rush to Mozarthaus Vienna despite of the very tight hours we had before departure of our train at 1300 hrs to Praha, Czech Republic.

Mozarthaus Vienna is the apartment that rented by Mozart Wolfgang after he moved from Salzburg to Vienna in year 1784. We visited his house in Salzburg and learned some of his biography, but I still thought I needed to visit the apartment where he stayed in during his years of greatest achievement.

In fact, I was still looking for the answer about what's in Austria that made me felt so connected, after visiting the magnificent fortress of Festung Hubensburg in Salzburg, listening to the story of Emperess Elizabeth (Sisi), Emperor Franz Joseph and Duke Rudolf from their palace.

Rina, Amir and I had a rushing tour scanning the apartment, but that was already enough for me to realize the common thing between Mozart Wolfgang, Emperor Franz Joseph, Emperess Elizabeth, Duke Rodulf and I.

When one of my colleague in my office questioned me about my intention of fasting, I was shut up by the way he asked. I did not answer his question properly because I did not think I needed to. "Just call me a maverick, sir," I told him in my heart.

My sister calls me a maverick, my aunties and uncles in my backyard call me a maverick, my friends in my hometown call me a maverick, my parents sometime shook their head and thought I'm a maverick...

Mozart Wolfgang was considered a maverick during his days and all his friends and family abandoned him.. He loved the see things in differently, to the extent of writing his masterpieces in the way of mirror image..

Emperor Franz Joseph was a maverick and he executed a lot of unusual policies when he ruled the country;

Emperess Elizabeth was a maverick. She was considered a rebel in the palace after she got married wih Emperor Franza Joseph, and she took an unusual step to set off a journey of her life..

Duke Rudolf was a maverick who fell in the dilemma of fighting against his royal family with the people of Austria and staying with his own royal family. Duke Rudolf ended his life by committed suicide with his love.

The moment I left Austria, it was not Mozart's any piece of classical music that played in my head. It was a song sang by The Fray instead. A song that pulled my attention to Vienna, a song that inspired me to shot the photo set themed "The Abandoned", a song that hold my blues, a song that made me come to Austria..

A song titled "Vienna"..

"There's no way to reach me
There's no way to reach me
There's no way to reach me
Am I already gone?
This is your maverick
This is Vienna.."

ps..: I-dun-know-what-kind-of-detail-do-u-want detail:

1. The official language in Austria is German.

2. The train Salzburg to Vienna (Wien) will take around 3 hours ride, and cost around 30++ Euro.

3. Purchase a Salzbrug Card at around 24 Euro per pax and gain access to all public transport and places of interesting including Festung Hubensberg, the castle that MUST VISIT when you are in Salzburg.

4. Vienna Card/ Wien Card, however, only gives you discounted price to enter some interesting places and free ride to public transport. So if you don't intend to visit the palaces/ museums of Vienna, you can just purchase a normal ravel card that gives you 24 hours / 48 hours free ride on public transports.

5. If you have a valid student card or International Student Identity Card (ISIC), that would work like a Vienna Card in order to gain discount on entrance fee!

6. Highly recommend to lodge in Wombat City Hostels. Wombat Vienna The Base and Wombat Vienna The Louge provide two diffrent choices of Wombat Hostels with two different atmosphere. In short, The Base is wild and The Louge is cosy.

7. Again, if you still think you need to know more about the solid details of the trip, you can check them out in Fariz's blog.

8. More pictures in my flickr.