Hi Bangkok, I’m back, from a 10 day trip in Netherlands and Belgium, with a lost soul. Or major post holiday blues. I am not sure.
To me, this trip wasn’t only just “traveling” Otherwise I wouldn’t have felt this down. I was staying with a local, saw glimpses of their lives, and had great connection and conversation. It was almost like a “Mini home stay” in Amsterdam as I used Amsterdam as a base, and traveled to other cities like Utrecht, Rotterdam, and…Texel island! Texel was very spontaneous, who would have thought you could go to an island in October? But when it hit 20 degrees in October, you just knew it’s a perfect opportunity to do so.
Actually the whole Netherlands-Belgium trip has been rather spontaneous. I’ve made some plans of places I wanted to check out, but ended up not following many of them and invented some new plans as I went along. For Belgium, I hardly planned anything at all. But everything worked out perfectly. I had a really good time in the end.
I’ve been told from everyone how lucky I was the whole time I was in Amsterdam as the weather was too good to be true! We got some Indian summer situation with sunshine and everything. I couldn’t have asked for a better weather. It only rained a couple days before I came back. They said it was the only week they had nice weather in October as Dutch weather can get really unpredictable with lots of rains and wind.
The whole time I was there, I got taken care of very well, while having some time exploring on my own. It was like I had a friend to support me and point me to places and things I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise as a tourist. To me, this has proven to be the best way to “travel” Having known locals there is THE BEST way to experience a city. You no longer feel like a stranger getting from landmark A to landmark B with zero emotional attachment or back stories. I didn’t move around from hotels to hotels, instead I was pointed out some minor but interesting details about people’s lives and places, which in turn made me feel quite “connected” to the city. It left me feeling at home and at peace, like I could probably live in Amsterdam. Crazy, isn’t it?
Maybe that explained why post holiday blues (Or is it really?) hit me this hard this time.
Here are some bits and pieces, real feelings that I didn’t ‘gram. There are always stories to tell behind happy photos.
When I was left alone the first day, I felt extremely stressed about directions! I could literally feel tight knots in my head, extreme frustration toward myself, that for the life of me I couldn’t figure out where to turn. I was left standing in the same place, because I kept going in the wrong direction, again and again.
I was particularly stressed since I booked a slot at Anne Frank House at 3PM on Monday 16 Oct. It was the only fixed plan I had for this trip, so I had to somehow get myself there in Jordaan, which I eventually did manage, after calming myself with a cup of Latte at Coffee and Coconuts in De Pijp. At the end of the day, I told myself to calm down and CHILL. I’m here on vacation after all, there is absolutely NO need to feel stressed. It’s ridiculous.
After that, I was fine! I started getting the hang of Google Maps and found the trick that I had to turn the map exactly how I stand there in real life, so I wouldn’t get lost (I’m not joking, that’s how desperate I am). Also, I owed A LOT to Citymapper app. It IS the best app ever for all public transportation connection. I could navigate through trains and trams with no problem at all!
I’m glad that now I have gained a little more confidence traveling on my own. This fear of directions had always pulled me back. It was quite an exhausting experience, though. A lot of stimulation; sight, sound, and…everything. This trip I walked on average 15 km/day (Over 20,000 steps/day), which was pretty insane. I’m still not sure if I would enjoy a long trip for over a week, completely alone, having to figure out every single step of the journey without any help though.
Major post holiday blues/Wake up call?
Before boarding the plane, I felt like there was nothing to look forward to going back at home, which was a bit alarming. As soon as I landed, I felt extremely sad and frustrated and even hated my hometown. I had this feeling years ago after I was back from a year of living in Japan. Then I somehow coped with it and managed to get rid of hating-my-hometown feeling. But it is back.
I felt jealous of quality of life people have over there in Netherlands. I could walk and tram anywhere in Amsterdam. People bike, although I gotta admit it looks a bit insane to figure out bike traffic there! At least there was no traffic. And people seem to have a better work-life balance overall.
People speak impressive English in Amsterdam. I was told that the city is voted one of the best places to live as an expat. Dutch in service industry are surprisingly friendly and rather helpful, which was unexpected. The city is quite small, filled with canals and narrow streets. If I have to explain Amsterdam in one word, it has to be…cozy. It is pretty, but I don’t think it’s the most stunning place on earth. However, I could somehow picture myself living there. I’ve been to several cities, but never felt this way with any I’ve visited before. Strange, isn’t it?
This sad feeling also made me question, how can I be this unhappy with my life here? Before this trip, I did feel my life was quite meh and flat, only routines after routines. And now I’m back and it is getting worse. Is it a wake up call to change something? Or maybe it is just a major post holiday blues that will go away in no time? It probably is more common than I had imagined.
One of the best things from this trip is, I’ve got some positive energy, practical advice, and great insights from conversations in Amsterdam. Making a mental note to myself to take actions on those things now that I’m home. Gotta keep the energy going.
It’s funny how you’ve gained so much from only 10 days, by being exposed to and embracing all the differences. Moments like this are when I feel most alive.