+ Another day in Belgium

Belgium Travel Blog

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WORK + BRUSSELS

So, today I finally went to have a “talk” with people I used to work with from couple of years ago. I started to work with them since they were 4 guys in a company. Now that they merged with other company. They have 14 employees, very cool and cozy office just 8 minutes walk from Bruxelle Gare Du Midi (Zuid Station - South Station) Good to see them again (2 guys I used to work with) Other new folks I don’t know them yet. But they seemed to be very friendly (offering me coffee, books to read while waiting, saying “Bonjour” even they have no idea who I am, telling me that a guy I was waiting to meet is coming in 10 minutes..or just simply smile)


well, the talk went well. We agreed that we should start from “Freelancing” first for less paperwork for them (but more paperwork for ME) After 1 or 2 projects then we will probably be able to manage to work as Part-time basis (3 days in-house and 2 days free for me to do whatever I want, of course I won’t get a full salary because it’s not full-time. But it should be at least enough for living here since I can’t charge them what I charged when I lived in Thailand. Bread in Thailand costs half a Euro. Here bread costs 2 Euro, enough said)

So, I’m starting freelancing with them as a web designer next week. Hope it will go well.

Chris (my beer buddy and fellow Flickr junkie) was supposed to meet me after work but since he’s leaving Belgium in basically.. one month (To Thailand!! Damn damn damn!! I hate him!!) So he has a lot to clear off at his office. Finally, he couldn’t make it this evening and postponed to other day.

COFFEE AT EXPENSIVE HOTEL

So I ended up having some coffee in Le Meridian Hotel which is right acorss the “Bruxelles Central Station” with a nice CS member from Brussels, talked about his plan to go on tour in Thailand (another one!! damn damn damn!!!) with his wife to celebrate their 25th anniversary in couple of months. He’s bit worried about the situation in Thailand right now (everybody here seems to know about it) and hopes it will be over by the time he’s flying to Phuket.

Toilet at that hotel is one of the most-difficult-to-access toilets in the world. First I had to walk to reception just to be told that I have to go to a bar man to get a key card. I got a keycard, went to a toilet, inserted card in wrong ways (how many ways can I be wrong? believe me. MANY) Took me full 7 minutes and I still couldn’t manage to open the door with a fancy electronic lock. But no way that I’m gonna walk back to a bar man and say “hey, er, sorry but I don’t know how to use this”..NO-WAY (sorry, little ego around here) And a following minute I just realized that there’s “instruction” written in English on that card too, not just French. (D’oh!!)

By the way, that little cup of coffee costs 4 Euro. 200 Baht. Which surpriced me because.. you know..a cup of bad coffee at Starbucks in Thailand is not that much cheaper.

RANT!

Train ticket (return trip) Leuven -  Brussels costs 9 Euro. Ride is about 35 Minutes (if you take straight ones) - 50 Minutes (if you take a detour ones) It’s not that bad if you don’t try to convert to Thai Baht.. which..I usually do. And every time I do that it’s killing me because I still can not live with the idea of fare for 30 minutes ride costs 225 Baht (So it’s 450 Baht return), price of a pack of Marlborough 200 Baht, a “value meal” at a typical Belgian fastfood chain = 320 Baht. But good news for girls. Prices of ingeries, cosmetic stuff here are no difference from Thailand at all. Some are even cheaper (if you’re a brand sucker.) You know how much Maybelline, L’Oreal, Bodyshop goodies cost in Thailand.) Esepcially Bodyshop here is at least cheaper than Thailand. For example, little lip balm from The Body Shop in Thailand cost 490 Baht. Here is about 300 Baht

Well.. I’m just trying to find some little things to cheer myself up in this everything-is-expensive country :-P

IT’S SUMMER. IT’S AWKWARD BBQ..

Apart from that, not much is going on here. Went for a very very boring BBQ at Bert’s dad’s (Clement) place. The brothers (Tom) and Steven (and a girlfriend) were there too (kind of tradition in summer to have BBQ on weekends, even though it doesn’t really make sense to me to spend an hour at least to prepare to grill tasteless, non-marinated meat and just to eat with mayonnaise, cocktail sauce, whatever.. AND cold vegetables ).

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate other Belgian food. I don’t hate BBQ Belgian style.  But I hate a “I-don’t-really-feel-like-it-but-I-have-to-do-it-because-it’s-summer” BBQ Very much. With passion. When it comes to BBQ it’s very important who you’re sharing with. If you + bunch of your good friends + bad food = Still awesome. But if it’s with people you barely know and never really liked their company + either good or bad food = disaster. And my case.. was a second one.

Imagine everyone’s (kinda) forced to be there. (because its good thing everyone’s supposed to do. To have dinner with your parents on weekends) One might go fry some french fries in the kitchen, Some stay at the table sipping whine quietly waiting for grill to be ready and then working as “shift” to grill all the meat, back to table, eat quietly, listening to knifes and forks clanking, try to have conversations because it’s “manner”, talking about job, renovating houses,.. you know.. all the boring topics you can think of.

Clement’s sailing buddy was also invited. He’s retired, so he has a lot of time and money to burn on sailing and stuff. I was just standing there and say Hi. He just kept speaking Dutch to me so I thought …. Seriously? He doesn’t speak English? Interesting.. And then while I was standing there flipping through a magazine on the table he fucking spanked my ass! I was like..WHAT-THE-F**K!!!! (x2!!!) THAT was a baddddddd.d.d.d.d.d.d impression. He was just kidding or whatever but it wasn’t funny at all :-(

Oh well, if it wasn’t Clement’s friend. That old pervert would be fucking dead.

I went to check a sausage on the grill if it was ready. Nope, not yet. Walked back to the dining table. F**k!! someone took my fork and knife!?!?!! They’re gone!!! This is GREAT. I was so damn hungry, had to wait so long for tasteless meat, AND SOMEONE CLEANED UP MY DISH ALREADY WHEN I’M STILL EATING. Bwahhhhhh!!!!! , I just stopped eating and went out for smoking. This is more than enough. This BBQ is so over.

Not long after BBQ (which took 2 hours to prepare and 30 minutes to eat) everyone just took off (as expected) Nobody would hang there doing nothing to talk anything anymore. I guess it was too much already having to sit there for whole dinner.

WHAT DID YOU SAY?

No one seemed to be extremely happy or excited about meal or anything..It’s just “another Sunday afternoon family BBQ”. That guy wouldn’t stop talking (which is actually good, at least it’s not boring). Steven’s girlfriend never f**king stop saying (with a not-so-happy face)

“2-3 days for Bangkok for me is enough”

(they were there ages ago) I couldn’t help it but saying

“Yes, if you don’t know the city that well. Big cities can be unpleasant. But if you give it some time you will feel better about it. When you know where to go and where NOT to go. Coz..you know what, if I didn’t know Belgium I would say 2-3 days for the WHOLE BELGIUM is enough for me too”

She just laughed, thought it was a joke. But sorry, I wasn’t joking :-P She said she prefers nature. I was so tempted to say “Yes, and I prefer less boring country” (Well, But I didn’t say it. It was boring enough already that evening. And actually Belgium is not that boring.)

Sorry, but I love my city. I was never a big fan of Belgium but I’m giving it a try. Every city has good sides and bad sides. Depends how you look at it. I’m sure I’ll grow to actually appreciate the place more and more. It’s all about absorbing things around you and adjust yourself to new environment, people, food, attitudes, etc. Not just dipping your toe in the city for 2 days and say “It’s enough for me, not my cup of tea” and have no f**king clue what to see and do that’s not only for tourists. Not being open-minded.

By far I don’t hate any places I’ve visited. True, I like some places more than others. But every place has its charm, lifestyles and uniqueness. Or maybe! I just feel that I’m insulted when people say bad things about Bangkok.. it’s one simple reason. it’s my home.

Well you know, actually Belgium is not all THAT boring. It’s always some activities and stuff to do, great museums to explore, kick-ass art-nouveau architectures in Brussels, free awesome concerts, loads of good music, film festivals, friendly (enough) people, lots of good beers :-P If you can ignore a very very very sucky gray sky and the cold breeze even in “summer”

I’m so looking forward to the “Bodyworlds” exhibition which is now in Brussels. Heard that they suggest that you book in advance because it’s so so so so popular here too. Can’t wait!

FLO’S RASPBERRIES MILKSHAKE

At least it was another good thing in past few days. Yesterday Flo called (as he said he would). He just came back from Spain and apparently was super happy about it (went diving and stuff) As he promised he would invite me for his freshly made raspberries milkshake. Yesterday he came to pick me up and we dropped by at Delhaize to buy some ice-cream (here they say only “ice” (ijs) or ijsje (errrr.. Little ice..?)  So, be careful when the Belgians say they one some “ice”. They mean “Ice-cream” (It’s as confusing as when the Brits said they want lemonade while they actually meant “Sprite” or “7Up”) :-P

Anyways, we got soy milk ice-cream (yeah, never knew it existed). Went up to little hill in his backyard where all the raspberries are grown and barring lot of fruits now (yummy for those snails who hide under the leaves too) Picked loads of the red juicy berries in a glass bowl (while his cat is watching with curiosity). Then! all the berries go in big pot.. add ice cream and blend them with food blender. And now I give you…. Fresh raspberries milkshake! (even though it’s not really a milk involved) and I’m telling you it was AWESOME. Big chuck of berries and creamy shake. HEAVEN!

I know by now that Flo is good with food experimental stuff (Last time he put some milk in his beer. Result : had to throw that beer away) So, yesterday he tried his berries milkshake with COFFEE and a bar of chocolate. I mean.. yeah.. why not.

Flo’s mother just came back home when I was about to leave. I guess she can’t wait to have the room (where Flo took over for his “work station”) back. She works at Leuven Library which is very very good public library.

They have pretty good selection of English language books (also German, French, Spanish, etc), Medias library (huge collection of music CDs, films, etc). You can even borrow latest version of Lonely Planet, Rough Guides here which is perfect because I don’t wanna buy the whole guide book just to visit Italy for a week. Come on.

This place is gonna be one of most visited place in town for me in future. I’m sure.

We stopped by at Via Via cafe for a beer. Parents with kid didn’t really like us for smoking there (But hey, come on, it is actually a place to smoke, it’s OPEN AIR and it’s an ash try on the table!) After a while it started to rain (again) So we moved inside. I finished my Duvel. Flo finished his Stella and he just dropped me at home.

Now Flo has moved to Antwerp to gain his social life back (since his friends are living there) Too bad, as I really like this crazy guy and I feel like I finally have someone I can call ‘friend’ in this city. But anyways, He’ll be here on weekends. No big deal.

BEAUTIFUL SATURDAY

Leuven on Saturdays can be very very very lovely (ONLY IF IT’S SUNNY) People go out to sit outside at the café, families taking kids out for playing (even I’m not so fond of kids screaming around everywhere I go), long line of people at ice-cream parlor, people on bicycles, shops are open (unlike Sundays, everything is pretty much DEAD), some go out for window-shopping, having a picnic, lying down on the grass in city park reading book, etc. It’s only on sunny Saturdays..

ANOTHER RANT..

Oh, And today I also Bought myself another 10-rides (8 Euro) bus ticket so it saves me a little (Instead of paying 1 Euro/ride) Compare cost of living here and in Thailand. I can’t believe that they’ve raised bus fares again! Personally I think it’s way too expensive already for such a lousy services and conditions of the buses and cost of living in Thailand. It just..doesn’t make sense. Oh and.. before I came home.. bought myself a pack of cigarettes that’s another 4 Euro something.. It’s such a bad idea to smoke cigarettes. I swear. I’m switching to rolling.

Still have to save up for DSLR camera though. I don’t mind second-hand as long as it still works fine. I just NEED a camera. And it’s not possible to buy in Belgium. (People here are paying way too much for DSLRs. I’m not going to join them). Plus I’m going to get a monitor for my MacBook too so I have more workspace.. can work on 2 screens at the same time.

Anyone has money-tree seeds? Please gimme a handful of them please.

will62 says:
That's why I live in Texas :)
Posted on: Jan 11, 2009
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