I am welcoming this 2017, by writing old stories from 2011. Yes, this is quite a proof that I am so lazy until I decide to write my so-long-ago trip after six years.
The story began when I visited Netherland in 2011, for joining the annual Dutch summer course organized by Taal Unie. Right after the course ended, I went for a short trip, to Belgium.
I still remember how I took the wrong line from Amsterdam to Gent, just because I didn't understand (or not sure) about info that I got from a official in Amsterdam Central Station.
Soon I arrived in Gent station, a friend of mine would pick me up. That was the plan.
But then, it was just the matter of my bad ability to read a map, given by a woman officer in the station.
I was lost when I was looking for the way out. And unfortunately one of the wheels of my suitcase was broken. It's understandable, due to the heat caused by its long run on the street. That was quite problem for me, since I could reach my friend and the it drizzled. I felt so miserable at that time. Waiting on the corner of the street, alone, with my broken suitcase, and had no idea where to go, in the middle of the rain. (In fact, a part of the story above has been posted in 2014, LOL. I just dont remember. Please see here)
After few minutes, I met my friend and we reunited, after a year I guessed. He was staying in Gent for the same course, as well.
I spent like 4 days here and people were wondering what I did since Gent is not quite popular among other big cities in Belgium. The day after my arrival, I went to the centrum, or the middle of the town, by cycling. That was ramadhan when I visited Gent. I spent the whole day by cycling around the city, and not to forget here again I lost and had no guts to ask the natives the way back home. Until I stopped in a shop and planned to ask where the hell I was. Since I found it was not friendly attitude, when you enter a shop only for asking and not to buy, then I decided to walk around the aisles looking for something to buy. Then I frowned for a moment, found out that the prices of some goods is far from cheap. I walked again, back and forth, until the shop keeper suspected me (I could see the way she looked at me). Finally I decided to buy water and still, I got no clear answer from her when I asked the way heading to my place. pffft.
I think, getting lost was my big problem in this trip. On the third day, again, I was lost when I was walking around the town. It was really exhausting, really. I bet this won't happened if you could read the map much better than I did :p and of course have guts to ask natives.
The social life of westerners are quite different from the easterners, when it comes about the "friendliness" or awareness. We, the Indonesians mostly "care" about what you do, what happen to you and how people greet someone or even strangers as if they know each other. On the other hand, western people are most likely individual persons who rarely pay attention to everyone's business.
I did realize this thing, when I walked and carried my broken suitcase with so inconvenience and no one I passed asking or giving a hand to me. It's so contrast here, people most probably would pose question to you "What happen?" or "Let me help you" or even though the most hated one you would hear "Mau kemana, neng?" or "Where are you going, lady?". The last one is more to gender-based verbal harassment.
I think I don't remember much, the time when I was in Gent. It's quite a lively city especially in the centrum, I must say and it has so many beautiful-old buildings. To be honest I didn't plan or make any list like 'where to go' or 'what to see' during my stay there. Even on my third day, I just stayed half day in the boarding house, did nothing instead of read a travel-guide book hahaha that was because of the rain so you barely could go outside and enjoy the city.