Thursday, 29 November 2007

The Land of the Logs

View from my hotel room

I was in Stockholm in September. Never in my life would I thought to find myself there. I don't really know much about Sweden, except maybe, IKEA. I was unprepared with the beauty of Stockholm, the offical tourism website was boring and the pictures looked dead. It didn't really leave a good impression on me. I was forewarned by my colleague to take lots of pictures, but I didn't believe her.

In reality, Stockholm takes your breath away. The cleanliness of the town, plus the gothic buidings, the cool crisp air, all added to the charm of Stockholm. It'd be interesting to know that Stockholm is an archipelago of 14 islands. The Vikings originated from here! How authentic is that?? And to prove it, they have a real life size Viking boat that sunk on her maiden voyage at the Ship Museum. Monuments of the king scattered in the city, the palace of the king and also buildings from the 18th century.

Like most European countires, their stores closes around 6pm, so all your shopping must be done before that. Souvenirs are plenty and affordable, provided that you don't exchange Kronor to RM, or Euro to RM (Euro1 = RM4.90).

There are about 200 Malaysians there, and what I can deduct from my brief visit there is that the Malaysian Embassy worked hard to maintain the Malaysian community by having regular gathering. During the Ramadhan, incidently when I was visiting, we breakfast in the Embassy and had Solat Terawikh together. I can see that the Malaysian community there is quite close and well knit.

There are some Malaysians who calls Stockholm home, like the couple who owned Restaurang Tullange, who hails from Melaka. Their children are born and bred in Stockholm, but still they kept the Malaysian citizenship. The sad truth is, Asians are second class citizens in Stockholm. They are usually looked down upon and bullied. Even if you became their citizen, it would still be the same. Therefore, it's wiser to keep the Malaysian citizenship than rather be a second class citizen in a froeign country.

Swedish are quite eurocentric, but surprisingly they are also adventurous, in the culinary sense. We had invited our driver to break fast with us, and they had gladly accepted Malaysian hospitality, trying every local cuisine that was served, even eating sambal belacan! Not an easy feat for an European.

Visiting Stockholm was interesting and I would definitely go there again if have the greens to support me! *sigh*

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