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Saturday, November 27, 2004

Interracial Relationship

Let's quote Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew from the Straits Times 26 November 2004:

"Ask yourself this question: if you have a child and he brings back a boyfriend or a girlfriend of a different race, will you be delighted? I'll answer you frankly - I don't think I will. I may eventually accept it"

Why interracial relationship is something not to be delighted to? I think interracial marriage is amazing. Having so many people we know married to different races, both from family and friends really opened our eyes. Why is racial difference matters? Hello, it's the third millenium. These days, we all should be color blind by now, not anymore thinking about racial purity, or racial segregation.

I guess I just need to ask few questions.
  • Why here people need to be differentiated by race?
  • And here, why do I have the impression each race group does not have much clue of what the other race groups are all about (for example, the malay do not really understand chinese myths and legends and vice versa)?
  • Why is racial integration not encouraged (I don't think much efforts are being spent to integrate different races, but rather, much efforts are spent to put each race group in its own separate container)?
I just wanna know why.

(To know the context of the article, I cited the whole article below):

The Straits Times
Nov 26, 2004
Melting pot idea is idealistic, not realistic
Forgetting race, language, religion is 'not do-able', says MM Lee

FORGING a Singaporean identity that is free and unburdened by the distinct racial, language, religious and cultural identities of its people, is idealistic but not realistic, said Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew yesterday. Mr Lee, well-known for his view that people, by nature, prefer their own ethnic group, acknowledged that Singapore had made progress in coming together as one people.

ON PEOPLE: Singapore has made progress in coming together as one people, said MM Lee. However, it will take a few more generations before the people can 'forget about our ethnic origins and be Singaporeans', he said. However, it would take a few more generations before people can 'forget about our ethnic origins and be Singaporeans', he said.

Mr Lee was drawn to revisit this theme of the Singapore identity after Ms Irene Ng (Tampines GRC) who, speaking just before him during the Chinese language debate, had argued passionately against linking language with identity. She was arguing for the emergence of a Singaporean consciousness that would transcend ethnic and cultural urges.

Ms Ng, a former Malaysian and a firm advocate of a Singapore identity, said: 'Better Singaporeans who are sure of their identity as Singaporeans and confident of their place in the world, than Singaporeans who identify with the culture, thought and history of another country better than one's own.'

To back her position, she cited Mr S. Rajaratnam, a member of Mr Lee's first Cabinet who penned the Singapore Pledge that promised fairness for all, 'regardless of race, language and religion'. The reference to Mr Rajaratnam's speeches from the past prompted a response from Mr Lee who called his old colleague an 'exponent of the 'we can create a race of Singaporeans' '.

'Rajaratnam was aiming for the stars,' he said. 'I went along with him with the Pledge and I think we tried to live up to the Pledge. 'But, if you say, let's forget race, language, religion, culture, it's not do-able. We start off with the realities that this is what we are and we should be grateful that we've got here in one piece.' Typically, he made his point with a stark scenario that, in multicultural Singapore, is increasingly commonplace.

'Ask yourself this question: if you have a child and he brings back a boyfriend or a girlfriend of a different race, will you be delighted? 'I'll answer you frankly - I don't think I will. I may eventually accept it,' he said.

Mr Lee highlighted the Nanyang University to further underline the emotive pull of ethnic identity. After 20 years, the issue is still very much alive among its graduates, said Mr Lee, obviously referring to the recent call by some for Nanyang Technological University to return to the old name. Religion is even harder to overcome, he added. But optimists like Ms Ng have much to cheer in Singapore, said Mr Lee.

Compared to other multicultural societies, Singaporeans of different cultures are more integrated. People go to the same schools and share the same working language and the fact that 'we're able to talk about these things now without arousing deep emotional reaction is a great advance', said Mr Lee.

However, he cautioned: 'This is about where we are. How do you take it forward? 'I say, please take note of how we have evolved it gradually and let it evolve further. Don't go for one-stroke solutions; you may regret it.

Following his comments, Ms Ng said she was not asking for Singaporeans to 'forget our ethnic cultures or obliterate our ethnic heritage'. Her point was: 'Yes, value and preserve our ethnic heritage but also promote a national consciousness and do that through our mother tongue curriculum.'

Read the full article...

Friday, November 05, 2004

Day 15

The next morning, we had sushi and mie goreng for breakfast. Together with Mas Reza, we drove to drop Kaka in school and continued to the city area to return the car. As expected, the traffic was not really smooth because it was weekday.

We managed to do City Check-in. The lady at the counter rushed us to take the CAT train because the boarding time is 9.40am, and we are still in the City at 9am. I was a bit hesitant to take CAT and asked her whether it was possible to take the S7 instead. She said the time is too tight. Hence we decided to take CAT, which is outrageously expensive. We really thought that we were late.

This is the train. The duration difference between S7 and this is only 8 minutes but the price is twice as much. We really should have taken S7 instead.

We were so pissed off to know that the plane was delayed for one and a half hour due to technical difficulty (they need to change the Electric Generator). If I had known this, I would've taken the S7 train and saved EUR12! And we also lost our water bottle in the train! And they did not even offer breakfast along with the delay (I had slight migraine because of hunger). Finally, boarding started at 12pm.

This is where I sat on board.

The flight was full of people, unlike the flight we took to Vienna. There would be no chance to sleep straight across the economy class seats. Sitting behind us are eastern European people who talked so loudly and kept banging against Indi's seat. Poor Mas Indi, he could not sleep at all in the plane!

Finally after such a long and uncomfortable flight (long haul flight is only comfortable when it's empty), we arrived in Singapore. We were greeted by the heat of sun, people talking loudly over their cellphones in public trains, and people not offering their seats to pregnant women, like shown in this picture (I was standing nearby these men and was clearly pregnant but they just decided to shut themselves out of the surrounding using books, portable music player, or just pretend to sleep). I guess this is back to reality, again.

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Thursday, November 04, 2004

Day 14 - Part 2

We wanted to visit the Salzburg Marionetten Theater, but there were no performance in November.

We then walked along the river, at the back of Sacher Hotel, and cross towards Mirabell Garden. On the way saw this cute dog in a basket, perhaps to guard against pickpockets.

Again, The Mirabell Garden is where Do-Re-Mi scene was shot. Remember this unicorn?

Here, Indi heard soft sound of Dixieland Jazz, and he wanted to find the source of the sound. It turned out that there was a Dixieland Jazz Performance in Mirabellplatz just in front of the church and the Thursday Market.

This is the Summerhill Dixie band members.

After enjoying the great (and free) concert, we rushed back to our parking place. On the way, we got one bowl of Italian Fish Soup and Paella for lunch. It tasted excellent and was really freshly made of seafood.

Since time is running out, we didn’t have a chance to visit the Hellbrunn Palace nor the Brewery (Anyway, Indi does not like beer). We decided to head back to Vienna, 300km away. The weather was cloudy and foggy, and we were saddened by the decisive news of Bush’s victory, plus, the forecasted drop of temperature over the weekend.

Indi did not want to refill the tank until the very last minute. The minute the fuel light is on, Indi decided to wait for the next two filling stations, which turned out to be about 70km away. I was so afraid that we would run out of fuel and stranded in the middle of nowhere, whereas we need to catch the flight tomorrow early morning! I was so tense in the car. Luckily, we found an OMV filling station just in time that it relieved my worries (moreover, OMV is cheaper than BP, AGIP, or even Shell).

We decided to avoid Vienna City Center and Praterstern and took a detour using A23 Expressway from the south of Vienna. Everything goes well until we enter the fringe of the city. The expressway turned out to be really packed, particularly with eastern European cars and commuters. We were stuck at 15-20kph for nearly one hour. The traffic jam stretched all the way to Kagran. Luckily, we made it in time to buy goodies to bring to Singapore from Spar.

When we arrived at Mas Reza’s home, the whole house caught cold. Mas Reza was lying there with 39C body temperature. The day before, Rania had fever up to 40C. Poor thing!

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Day 14 - Part 1

We woke up just before seven, but still too late to catch the Glockenspiel in Mozartplatz. I could only hear the sound of it. We decided to take a small walk to Nonnberg Church and Convent. The walk brought us to a slightly higher hill overlooking Salzburg, and we could see that heavy fog was clouding the city. The convent was founded in 15th century. The Sound of Music was shot inside the Convent inner courtyard (which is inaccessible for public), and the church is where the real Maria and the real Captain getting married (the Sound of Music's wedding took place at Mondsee Cathedral). Around the church, I collected falling maple leaves to take home.

We walked back to the hotel and had breakfast. It was typical German/Austrian breakfast consisting semmel rolls, butter, marmalade, honey, weisswurst, chicken spread, and cup of tea. It was quite a fulfilling breakfast. When we checked out, we gave Mr. Wagner some souvenir from Singapore.

We hurried to the parking place to avoid being fined, dragging our luggage with us. Luckily it was not a really distant walk, and we managed to exit the Kurzparkzone just before 9am. Our next destination was the other side of the river, and we needed to find a 3-hour Kurzparkzone near Mirabellplatz.

On our way to cross the river, we decided to make a detour to visit Leopoldskron Palace, which was used as the setting of Sound of Music (the scene where the children fell into water). The palace is not open to public and is currently used as Seminar Centre. We managed to drive inside the complex and took a quick snap.

We found a parking spot in the Kurzparkzone at the corner of Faberstrasse and Markus Sittikus Strasse, and immediately stamped for three-hour parking ticket. From there, it was a close walk to Makartplatz, where Mozart Residence was located.

Mozart Residence museum was fascinating. We were given a guiding handset with music clips reflecting the exhibited facsimile transcription or the relevant musical instruments. There is also an audio visual exhibition of Mozart Family tour around Europe. It also shows a growing conflict between young Mozart and his father. However, the exhibition did not give a complete picture of Mozart's biography, since it is ignoring the Vienna phase of Mozart's life.

We continued walking towards the bridge, passing by a music bookshop, and onto a small square where a jazz group is performing "Human Nature" in 5/4 beat. It became an interesting interpretation. However, I personally think that the way it is played is a bit stuttering and not very smooth.

The event was part of Jazz in der Altstadt 2004, which offered all kinds of jazz performance for free in public places along Salzburg Altstadt.

We became interested with this naked male mannequin, near the concert place.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Day 13 - Part 2

We woke up just before six. At the foot of Nonnberg we could hear the Glockenspiel in Mozartplatz rang at 6pm. Walking towards Kapitelplatz, we could see the Fortress high up on the hill was being lit to make it visible at night. We were surprised to find out that the fortress light was projected from the Altstadt area. Passing by Domplatz, we continued to Residenzplatz, which used to be the place for Archbishop. The building was so lavish, and we could also see the picture of the Gallery room with its intricate ornaments. So much of religious leaders of that days living in overwhelming wealth while the people around the area were poor!

We continued to walk to Mozartplatz where there is a Mozart statue wearing Toga. The depiction of Mozart in this statue is so distant from what I saw in the movie Amadeus.

We then continued to walk along Getreidegasse, which is a cobblestone paved pedestrian road with a lot of shops (which has mostly closed except of some restaurants or cafes). It was really fascinating to walk in this old town of Salzburg. The street is never really straight, and a lot of small alleyways cut through rows of buildings, offering surprising glances of alleys and inner courtyards. It is like walking in a labyrinth, but never getting lost in the maze. We noticed that most of the buildings were built in 13th century, or at least originated from that era.

We even found a doorbell from olden days, with a very simple mechanism. A handle is attached to a long cable that is tied to a bell at upper level. Each handle corresponds with the level number to contact. If I want to ring Mr. Braun in 2nd level of a building, I just pull the handle marked “2nd Storey” and ring the bell.

Then we took our photos outside Mozart's birthplace. Too bad the Museum is closed at that late hour.

We passed by the Kebab Place in one alleyway on Getreidegasse. I was in this Kebab place too, in 1999, but now we had a chance to talk with the seller. His name is Mr. Darius, who came from Iran. First he came to Singapore around early 80s, and settled down in Salzburg in year 1982. He has a son named Dario (sounds Italian). His Kebab is really good.

We also saw a shop that sells all kinds of liqueurs. On the display, there is one bottle with Cigar inside it.

We continued to walk through Burgerspitalgasse then back onto Universitatplatz. We saw a shop that sells exclusively handmade Mozartkugeln, which is quite price (about EUR 0.80 a piece).

Then we head back to the Residenzplatz, and made a detour towards the Festunggasse, where we passed the entry to the Fortress funicular. We cut through Herrengasse and going back down in Kalgasse, where there is a café selling Gluhwein (warm red wine). Arriving back in the hotel, we took a shower and slept.

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Day 13 - Part 1

Indi woke up in the morning with bad nasal problem, maybe due to temperature drop that night. Nevertheless he tried to wake up and Kathy prepared hot tea for him. I started to cook the Mie Goreng with chicken, using the noodle and spices recommended by Alex. The result was close to excellent, not because I cooked it, but because the spices were right. We were using Go Tan Bami Goreng spice. It was the Mie Goreng that Kathy had eaten for breakfast in Bintan last year. Ah yes, Indonesian cuisine is simply excellent and people love it!

Before we left for Salzburg we checked our email, and my Indosat 8MB email account was flooded by junk mails, 100% by junk from over the past 10 days, 1600 pieces of them. Perhaps I should consider closing that email account.

We drove to Salzburg, and there are road constructions everywhere, which slowed down our drive. At 2pm we arrived near our hotel “Hinterbruehl” in Schanzlgasse, Salzburg Old Town Area (just at the foot of Nonnberg Abbey). Hinterbruehl Gasthof was built in 1380, was a house, then a tavern, and now a hotel with restaurant owned by the Wagners. It was really an old building. At the ground floor you can see the arched structures to support the upper four storeys. The wall is extremely thick, both for structural purpose as well as isolation. Our room was on the first floor (which is the second floor according to Singaporean standard), with its old double-layered window overlooking the small Kajetaner Platz and its fountain. Our double room has its own washbasin. However, toilet and shower are in other rooms at the same level. The toilet is tucked in the stair corridor, and has a small uncovered vent window.

We were surprised to find that the parking fare at Kajetanerplatz is outrageously expensive – EUR30 for whole day parking – and our hotel did not include free parking (except half-hour free drop off inside the paid parking area). Mr. Wagner, the hotel owner, advised us to drive slightly north to Nonntal (behind Hypo Bank) where there are parking place for cheaper rate for 24 hours. When we arrived there, we found out that cheaper is not cheap after all. Whole-day parking is charged for EUR13 while hourly parking is EUR1.80.

We decided to just find a Kurzparkzone (short-term parking area) and renew its ticket every few hours (maximum three hours for EUR3). The locals notified us that parking in Kurzparkzone is free from 7pm to 9am the next day. We decided to park in Kurzparkzone near the hotel later at 4pm for three hours, then to leave the car until the next day. From 2.30pm to 3.30 pm we decided to just drive around Salzburg and get some food items from Spar (Semmel rolls, Antipasti, Weisswurst, orange juice for Indi’s flu attack, and Milka chocolate bars). At 3.30 we found a parking spot near the Natural Science Faculty in Salzburg University (400m walk from the hotel), and had our lunch inside the car (if the driver stays inside the car, this is not considered as parking, so we were not liable for paying parking fares during our lunch in car).

Exactly at 4pm we paid for parking ticket for three hours, which will automatically extend overnight until 9am the next day. We then walked back to the hotel, feeling happy to have saved so much for parking fares! Indi caught cold and needed to rest, so we decided to take an early sleep, which means we would be missing the sun for the day (sun sets at 5pm). It is much more important to stay healthy during the vacation! Anyway, there is not much sun outside since dark clouds had been hanging outside since morning.

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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Day 12 - Part 2

Trying to find something interesting and edible, we enter Pferdemetsgerei Kaspar Worle, which specialized in horse meat (we also entered a stall which specialized in turkey meat, but it was not really interesting).

We had boiled sausage with mustard for snack, and bought ourselves wurst made from pure horse meat.

A guy who was having his lunch in this stall really loves horse meat because it is not fatty, unlike pork. The small amount of horse fat can immerse into the human skin, it will not leave fat stains, and can be used for beauty purposes, he said. He also said that possibly the horse meat come from old or sick racing horse. However, other people also said there are farms in Eastern Europe that breed horses for their meat. Regardless, we simply love this horse meat sausage.

We ran back to Marienplatz where we met Alex and together walked towards Hofgarten. Inside the Hofgarten, we saw some eastern European people basking with their Cello and Accordion.

Then Alex took us for a coffee at Tambosi Coffee House, which is situated in Odeonplatz right beside the Hofgarten. This posh place was established over 200 years ago and hence made it the oldest café in town.

We continued to Rosenheimer Platz to go to Asian Grocery Store, to get the spices for Mie Goreng for Kathy. In the shop we found soy sauce with the brand that no longer existed in Indonesia (some even listed their brand using the old four digit phone number).

On our way back to meet Kathy at Marienplatz, we play around with the camera to create nice visual effects.

Kathy took us to a store where we checked out some movie titles. She wanted to show us some good German movie. However, we could not find German movie in the shop, and rather, we saw all American movie translated into German. The title became really funny, for example "The Lady in Red" becomes "Die Frau in Rot".

We also browsed around the shop looking for variety of coffee machine and food cutter. We continued to walk to our dinner place, passed by the Deutches Museum. Too bad we do not have enough time to visit this great museum. Kathy told me they have new exhibit on Glass Bridges.

We all then walked to the Dreigroschenkeller Restaurant, "The Three Penny Cellar", located at the cellar / basement level in Lilienstrasse, just nearby the cinema. The interior is designed based on the Bertold Brecht Play "The Three Penny Opera", for example, the Jail, the Bank, the Brothel, and the Wedding. The food served is typical German Food, nothing related to the Three Penny Opera.

In the menu, there are various kind of "Etagere" (three or four course meal served in staggered tray). We ordered Knastetagere, which essentially vegetarian étagère (consisting Suppentopf des Tages, Käsespätzle und Salatschusel mit gebratenen Speckwürfeln). Kathy ordered beef dumpling just in case the food is not enough. For the drink, we ordered non alcoholic beer, Dunkles (dark beer), Radler (lemonade mixed with beer), and Munich Water. The food was simply fabulous and the service was great.

At ten pm, the singers started to sing excerpt from the Three Penny Opera. They handed out the lyrics of the play for the audience to sing along. Too bad it was all in German, which I could not understand. We just found out that the song "Mack the Knife" is originated from this play.

After the long musical dinner we drove back to Kathy+Stefan’s house and watched the beginning of vote count of the US Presidential Election. It seemed that Bush is leading the tally. Indi heard a hard-core republican said to CNN “In republican state you can see churches all over the place. In democrat state you can see Chinese restaurant and Thai restaurant sprouted all over”. What is this statement supposed to mean? I am getting really irritated. We were disappointed with how millions of Americans can be so stupid. We decided to go to bed, hoping that in the morning the count will be reversed.

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Day 12 - Part 1

We woke up early in the morning to pack to continue our trip to Munich. The weather was really foggy this morning. Sieglinder prepared breakfast at eight, with white sausage and semmel bread. She explained that people can come to Niederthai to learn how to ski, usually around January, when there is enough snow. She also introduced us to her cat, Mitz (Finally we found out her name).

After breakfast she showed us around to the apartment that she rented out to people. The units are spacious and are filled with enough amenities (fridge, dishwasher, cooking utensils). The big apartment unit has balcony that faces the south. She explained that people who rented the apartment tend to cook for their own, and not to rely on breakfast served by her. We then said goodbye to her and Bernhard (who was still working in the barn).

The weather is getting slightly better after breakfast, and we could see holes in the clouds where blue sky peeped through. Indi took one last picture of the Niederthai church, meadows, and the slopes that are used for skiing in winter. Indi wanted to show Mas Reza that Niederthai is a nice place to learn ski for beginners.

Although the fog in Niederthai valley has lifted up, the road down to Umhausen are filled out with really thick fog. I think the visibility is only around three meters. The fog created a nice silhouette of autumn trees, mostly already without leaves. The fog became only a bit thinner in Umhausen area.

After the A12 expressway, we exited at Telfs and took the country road, since there is no Expressway that crosses the German boundary from Insbruck / Umhausen. Driving up from Telfs via Mösern to Seefeld was slow because it was really foggy and a few trucks were also passing by this narrow two-lane country road. We spent 20 minutes driving in 15-20 km/h speed because five cars were lining up in front of us and were unable to take over the truck in front.

The problem with driving in country road through small towns is that we are not sure if we are heading towards the right direction. Road signs are not really consistently put along the intersection. Sometimes the road sign says Munchen, but sometimes it is only Seefeld or Scharnitz. I suggested Mas Indi to just follow a car with a German plate (which was unlikely to be a car that roams around countryside, but intended to cross over to Germany as well). However, he does not believe my advice and suggested me to ask the person in the petrol station. I used this opportunity to buy chocolate (white Milka and Toblerone). Confirmed by the attendant at petrol station, my hunch on the direction turned out to be right, and we continued to drive northward.

At Scharnitz, which is the last town before the border, we filled out our petrol tank. As advised by Kathy, petrol price in Austria cheaper compared to Germany (where they put high tax on petrol). Interestingly, 400m later, just after the German boundary, there is another petrol station with German price (I wonder what business sense they use, since people will certainly buy petrol from the Austrian side). In the petrol station, local farmers also sell their products, such as pumpkin, for a quite cheap price.

Crossing to Germany was seamless; it really did not feel like going to another country. The border to Germany is just marked by a blue road sign; however, we saw a remnant of the old days, like old small checkpoint beside the road and the train station. The weather in this bordertown is clear and warm, and we could see the foot of Alpine range (although without snowy peak).

Entering Germany, we noticed that there are a lot of small huts in the meadows. We also saw a lot of military vehicle and soldiers walking around this area. Then we enter the town of Garmisch. We are with the impression that German town are essentially bigger than Austrian towns.

There is no speed limit for driving in German expressway. Our little 1200cc car managed to reach 160kph on flat expressway (and the pedal could not be pushed further with the fifth gear), while other Audis or BMWs were effortlessly crossing beside us with 200-220kph speed.

Just before entering the A95 expressway, I called Kathy to notify that we are on the way. Kathy immediately informed us the whole set of direction to reach their house, but I couldn't remember it. We arrived right outside Munchen around 11.00, and I tried to call Kathy again to reconfirm the direiction. But she was unreachable, her cellphone ran out of battery and nobody picked up their house phone. Hence, we were driven to a seemingly wrong direction and ended up in Dachauerstrasse. Desperate and hungry, we decided to look for city map, and stopped right beside a gloomy neighbourhood in Dachauerstrasse, right in front of the Volkshochschule.

We got off the car and walked around the neighbourhood a bit, trying to find a corner shop or a petrol station for the city map. However, when we head back towards our car, a parking controller lady was getting ready to write us a parking ticket. We tried to explain to her that we were only there for five minutes. Luckily, the lady was kind enough to cancel the parking ticket, and explained to us that we should put the time marker at our dashboard. She was also kind enough to show us where we can buy map.

We managed to buy the city map in the corner shop for EUR6.50, a bit expensive, but it was really a good and detailed map. Then we took 15 minutes to figure out where we were, and plan our routes to Kathy's accordingly. The route turned out to be pretty straightforward. In only 20 minutes we arrived at her place.

Their apartment, located in Graefelfingerstrasse, is in the uppermost floor with quite a nice view. It's spacious enough for two persons. Stefan made a copper plate manually embossed with their names to be put at the front door (Koch + Nicolait). After putting our luggage, Kathy and we decided to drive to downtown where we could stroll around the old town while she would meet her mom and settle some other business in town. We were introduced to her loyal VW Beetle "Rodriguez" which was built in 1982 but have been with Kathy for the past seven years.

We strolled around Marienplatz where we met Kathy's mum. They took us to Vinzenzmurr Metzgerei where we had Leberkäse mit Brot (some Bavarian Meatloaf), Currywurst and Green Salad with Yoghurt Dressing. Vinzenzmurr's Weisswurst (white sausage from veal) won an award just recently.

We said goodbye to Kathy and continued our stroll. Marienplatz is the townsquare of Munich, and it is also where the Neues Rathaus is located. This City Hall building is famous for its Glockenspiel clock and its dancing figurines. Too bad we did not arrive on time for the glockenspiel show. We then passed by the Toy Museum in the Old Town Hall Tower. We took a peep inside the museum but did not enter (not enough time). We continued to Viktualienmarkt (an old market in the centre of Munich). This market has various small stalls that specialized in certain type of food. There are a lot of Metzgerei. Many shops specialized in cheese, wine, dried spices, condiments, antipasti, juice, or even honey. The honey stall also sells variety of beeswax candles and Honig Wein - wine made from honey or also known as mead. We also entered a stall that specialized in meat of wild animals / game. There we could find deer meat, wild goose, boar, rabbits, wild hen, or even crocodile. Some meat has already been processed into canned product such as Wildragout.

This shop's specialty is all kinds of Goat Cheese.

This stall sells all kinds of wine and cheese.

This guy sells all kinds of marinated olives, antipasti, and preserved vegetables.

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Monday, November 01, 2004

Day 11 - Part 2

After the warming brunch, we try to find a spot to play with snow. Too bad the snow was not really dry, since it was a mixture of rain, snow, and slush. But Rani managed to get used of her cold wet shoes and headed towards the snow and started to play with it.

This was her first time seeing snow in her life.

Those guys are really good in snowboarding!

Rani posed with Snowmobil.

Just the two of us!

Tired with snow, we drove down south to Obergurgl, but there were not much to see there, partly because the weather was not really good. Upon reaching Obergurgl, we decided to turn back and drove up north.

When we reached Langenfeld, we found this nice piece of architecture. It turned to be a spa resort with thermal pool facilities, called the Aquadome

We'd have to say that it's a quite nice architecture with good workmanship.

Blending in nicely with the surrounding mountains.

When we were in the resort, we could also hear the bell of Langenfeld church rang from afar. The bells rang like layers of canon music. We found out that the Allerheiligen mass was being held there.

We continued to drive north to find a place to have dinner. Initially we just wanted to buy cheap stuff from grocery, but all were closed. We found this M Preis supermarket with a nice modern architecture, and we remembered Stephan told us that M Preis is a chain supermarket that hires different architects to design each individual building uniquely with modern architecture (Later I found that one of the M Preis building was listed in the Phaidon Atlas of Architecture).

We could not find a place that clicked for dinner and we drove as far as Stams. We found the famous old monastery, where the monks still dressed in old-fashioned robe (however, they use modern tools such as laptops or cars).

The monastery has sundial clock at the tower.

Near the monastery, we found this nice cozy place to eat called 'Alte Schmiede'. It is owned by the 17 th descendant of a blacksmith family who migrated from Italy in 14 th century. The buildings and furniture still retains the accessories and equipment of the blacksmith.

We ordered Pizza Cappriciosa and Tyrolean Dumpling Soup. It was really good and fulfilling. Hubert Staudacher, the owner, is a really chatty friendly chap who loves to get to know the customer. He chatted to all customers in his restaurant. He told us that he used to be blacksmith, before converting the building as a restaurant. He said he was in Bali few years back.

We then drove back to Niederthai and prepared ourselves for tomorrow’s trip to Munich.

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Day 11 - Part 1

When we woke up, we saw that the weather was a bit sunny, and we could see clearly that the farm was surrounded by the snowy mountains of Ortztal range. We were really excited! This is the view from our window.

We took a stroll around the village. It was still early in the morning, only 7.30am. You can see that Niederthai is a high valley surrounded by mountains. The scenery was really awesome.

Now we could take photo of the Haus Laerchenwald.

This is the barn owned by the Leiter family.

Apparently some people also have holiday homes in the area. These guys did not seem to be local, and the modern architecture seemed to represent that they're tourists.

Niederthai seemed to be a winter get away location, there are two small ski schools in the area, and we also found a ski lift. However the slope did not seem to be so steep.

After the stroll, we came back to the farm house and found that Sieglinder had already prepared breakfast for us, consisting semmel bread, cold meats, honey, marmalade, homemade butter and tea.

Sieglinder accompanied us for breakfast and chatted about her family. Lucky that she speaks English! She mentioned that today was All Saints Day and people were supposed to go to church and visit the grave of family members. She said the weather would become worse in the afternoon, hence we need to rush if we want to go to Solden. She informed us that the Pass to Italy has been closed because it was obstructed by snow. Too bad, we had to cancel our plan to cross to Italy.

When we were about to continue driving to Solden, we found Leiter's beautiful cat. I wonder why cat in the Alpen always have thick fur.

With the clear weather we could see how Niederthai is located in higher location compared to Umhausen.

When we got to Solden, we realized that the cable car was not in operation until winter. If we wanted to go to the Glacier, we had to drive up to the 3000m above sea level. It was really a long and winding drive and we could see the transformation of the natural scenery. At about 2500m, there were only rocks, and no more big trees. At 2700m, we could see snow already.

Rani was really fascinated and amazed, since this is her first time to see snow and touch snow. However, when we arrived, it started to drizzle again. Too bad, Rani was not wearing an appropriate shoe, and hence the cold slush mix of snow and water got inside her shoes, and she started to shiver.

We headed to the restaurant to warm up ourselves. Rani ordered the Leberknoedelsuppe while Indi ordered Currywurst.

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