How not to warn your child of dangers.

I was in The Hague (Den Haag) just the other afternoon. I popped in to do a little bit of shopping. Being an Englishman submerged in The Netherlands I am surrounded by Dutch speakers: It means that my ears pick out English at fifty paces. I happened to pass an English family (they sounded like they were from EastEnders, the east end of London).

The mum was standing with her partner and two sons (aged 10 and 7ish). This is what I heard her saying to her youngest son.

“You remember Grandad’s friend?………….. DEAD!………… Yeah, he got trapped under a tram”.

I can only assume that the boy had been a little too close to a tram moments before. This was his mum’s attempt at warning him of the dangers. A slight over-reaction I’d say. The poor boy looked terrified at the thought of ending up like ‘Grandad’s friend’.

What was she thinking!

I met Darth Vader…in Berlin.

Just got back from a weekend trip to Berlin. It’s a fantastic city – I was there two years ago and couldn’t wait to get back. The sun was shining and it was baking hot (28 degrees). Lovely, especially for May in Europe.

I got to Pariser Platz (the huge square by the Brandenburg Gate) and bumped into Darth Vader. Random but funny. I thought I’d share the picture with you all.

“Take your shoes off when you we go to bed”…..said the waitress.

That’s what the nice waitress from the Czech Republic said to me. I was expecting a drink – not an invitation to bed.

“If you could just take of your shoes when we go to bed…” I had to do the double-take…. The ‘sorry-did-I-hear-that-right’ look… I was stunned and then I realised that it was ‘all part of the experience’.

I feel I should explain – I was with friends. Yes, I was taking 5 friends to bed with me too! BED is a great cocktail bar in Prague. It was discovered quite by accident after a long day of walking and city exploration. Tucked away on the quieter corner of Prague’s main square the bright white and pink sign stood out and we were instantly attracted (like flies to the light). Inside everything looked hip and trendy. There was a very cosmopolitan feel to the bar. We were keen to enjoy a couple of cocktails before moving on to another bar. That was the plan – but when do those plans ever work out?

Here we are - just ordered our cocktails.

There were no chairs and tables in BED. Everywhere you looked were huge lounger-beds with people laid flat-out or snuggled together (shoes off) and enjoying their drinks. We were escorted led down a spiral staircase to the brightly lit basement. (This all sounds so much worse than it was. It was not a dodgy bar. It was very nice and bright). That’s when our waitress told us about ‘going to bed’. We slipped our shoes off, giggled a bit – It all felt a bit strange (it doesn’t happen in most place of course) and then we hopped on to the huge mattresses. The walls, floor, beds, sheets, tables were all white. The lighting was blue and it gave the place a surprisingly warm feel. The music was great. Chill-out lounge – we loved you!

The chill out beds - just before people arrived.

 

Easier to climb down that up, after a few cocktails.

I can see why the place is so popular. Why don’t more bars do this? It was so comfortable. We lay back and stretched out. Our bed could have easily accommodated about 8 people (or more). We looked at the cocktail menu and ordered. This was the life! Pure relaxation.

About 3 hours later – all plans of ever moving on to another bar had gone ‘out of the window’. We were staying here. It was too good a place to leave. We had watched other groups and couples arrive and give the same puzzled looks as they de-shoed and hopped onto a bed.

Loving my mojito!

I love to go out and enjoy an evening with friends. This bar will stay in my memory for its individuality. If you’re ever in Prague you must take a look.

BED in Prague. A must see!

You might also enjoy reading:

Bring Me Back to Bed (look, someone else has been and loved it too).

Exploring Asia #1: Malaysia

“Bags packed. Tickets printed. Passports checked and double checked. Malaysia here we come”. (Well, that was a few weeks ago – and this is my review).

Flying with Emirates from Amsterdam to Dubai and then Dubai onto Kuala Lumpur is a real treat. From the moment you step on board the flight there is a welcoming atmosphere and a feeling of luxury. I knew I was going to enjoy the flight, even if it was to be hours and hours long. There is the uncomfortable moment, however, as you walk through the First Class section of the plane where you are given ‘looks’ from the rather smug looking passengers in their reclining seats. They sip on their complimentary champagne and give you the ‘you wish you were here in First too, don’t you’ look. Sheepishly, the Economy passengers, myself included proceed to our zone.

Seats with TV screens, or should I say ‘entertainment consoles’ are the highlight of the journey. Almost every passenger feels the need, even before take-off, to play with the remote control. There is so much choice that you cannot possibly decide how to be entertained first. Should you watch a film? Maybe a TV episode would be best? The music channels sound good too? But there’s also a relaxation channel…. Limitless.

Landing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital city, you find yourself in a series of ‘capsule’ gates. These gates are connected by a monorail which speedily carries thousands of passengers from one terminal to another. There is immediately a sense of organisation and cleanliness. Once through the passport control (and receiving the ‘okay’ from Immigration) you collect bags and join the queue for taxis at a special taxi office. They have the system worked out to perfection here. You tell one person where you would like to go, pay a standard fee (no meters used for airport runs) and then you take your ticket to the taxi stand outside. It was simple and stress-free.

The airports in KL are quite a distance from the city. The views from the taxi are of endless tropical plants and trees. Malaysia has palm trees growing in every available spot. They make a great deal of money from the sale of palm oils.

The skyline of Kuala Lumpur.

Kuala Lumpur nests amongst the hills and towers up from the ground. The skyline though is far from impressive with the exception of the Petronas Twin Towers. Standing proudly amongst some rather bland looking tower blocks, the Petronas Towers amaze by the day and simply stun you by night. With a skywalk linking the two and a huge shopping mall contained within the lower floors, it is a must-see in the city.

KL's Petronas Twin Towers (by night).

The number of shopping malls in KL is astounding. There are simply not enough shoppers to fill the shops themselves. You can easily find yourself wandering through a mall, then leaving and discovering one even bigger and more impressive five minutes away. If you like to shop then KL is definitely worth a visit.

Where KL boasts in its shopping choice it lacks in character and heart. It feels as though there is something missing when you travel through the city. There is no river or coast to give the city a focal point, something which can seem almost alien to the European traveller. In order to see the city there are a variety of choices available. You can attempt to explore on foot, but as I discovered KL is equipped with adequate pavements for pedestrians. The heat can be overpowering for anyone who wishes to tip-toe along the streets with unfinished streets. Taxis are everywhere and you never have to wait more than a couple of minutes to flag one down. There are city buses for tourists to take you to all the major sites, however it feels like an endless loop once you’re on board.

China Town and the old central market are really worth a visit once you’ve seen the Petronas Towers. KL can be explored in a day or two, but while you’re there you must enjoy a massage from one of the wonderful massage parlours (superb quality and great value). Manicures and pedicures along with any other form of relaxation treatment and pampering will make you feel wonderful (I know I did). Evenings are filled by enjoying cocktails and a wide selection of meals ranging from typical Malay, to Chinese, to Thai and more. The choice is endless. 

Away from KL there are other sights which must not be missed. We arranged for a taxi driver to look after us for 1 day for a set price, something which is common amongst tourists. About 2 hours away from KL is the Kuala Gandah Elephant Orphanage Sanctuary. At the edge of a tiny village you can explore the sanctuary and meet some young elephants. Many of the elephants have been rescued from a variety of situations. After a video documentary explaining the work done at the sanctuary there is the possibility to feed the elephants and ride them. Some visitors are even brave enough to bathe with them.

Kuala Gandah (small village by the elephant sanctuary).

One of the young elephant orphans.

An amazing, yet uncomfortable ride on a 37 year old elephant.

Batu Caves is a surreal tourist ‘hot-spot’. A  42.7 metre (140.09 ft) high, the world’s tallest statue of Murugan, a Hindu deity, stands at the base of the steps. The 272 steps lead up into the limestone cave where Hindu shrines can be found. The steps and caves are full of monkeys which are far from shy. They leap from post to post and surprise many of the tourists (myself included).

The huge golden statue stands proudly at the Batu Caves entrance.

 

My Malaysia Highlights:

  • Elephant sanctuary
  • Massages
  • Shopping at the Petronas Towers
  • Batu Caves
  • Cocktails at the skybar in the Traders Hotel (with great views of the Petronas Towers)
  • Restaurant choice

“Let’s make magic”. The best (or is it worst) of online dating responses.

Dating websites are never dull places. ‘Interesting’ profiles and pictures that will make you smile or scream (mostly scream). I’ve seen some ‘shockers’ over the years. I thought this reply from a dating website was just too good not to share with you all. A friend of mine had registered on a site, messaged a guy and then received a reply from the guy (the blue text). You can see her email at the top (the purple text) in sending on the fantastic reply that she received.

*I’ve changed the names to keep anonymity (otherwise they’d kill me for sharing it). I hope you enjoy the bizarreness of the reply he wrote. It had me laughing out loud.

Enjoy.

> Subject: Get a load of this…
> From: anonname@email.com
> Date: Wed, 11 May 2011 19:01:54
> To: myname@email.com
>
> Jamie
>
> I thought you’d love to see my message from Dutch bloke on the dating site!!!
>
> Classic I think you’ll agree!
>
> Xxx
>
> Sent from my iPhone
 
Hello 

Thanks for writing me back – Honestly when I first saw your profile I was intrigued! also with a polite profile, you’re a beautiful woman and I really admire that very much. First you have to understand that all that glitters aren’t Gold but when i see a pure diamond i won’t hesitate to jump on it. silly me with cute joke. lol.

I am Currently in West Central Africa- Working on a Project. That would explain the somewhat late e-mails. Been here over a month and now I have 2-3 weeks to return to the UK. I will like to get to know more about you and see where this leads to – feel free to ask me questions – I will be glad to answer and tell you more about myself, I enjoy a good conversation. I want you to know that the distance should not be an obstacle ok..We can always try and work things out.. We can make it only if we try…

I am in search of an ideal woman!! Someone to share my passion and love for. If you think you’re ‘down with it’.. Let’s make magic. One thing you should know is half British and half dutch.. Dad is British and my Mom is Dutch. I’m sure that little detail is in on my profile. I moved to the UK after so many years of staying in Holland. Feels good to be home. Why do I call the UK home? Well home is where the heart is, isn’t it? smiles*. You do have my Attention! I will write a lot about me on my next email – this is just a tipsy.

John