Babymoon in The Netherlands

My office is somewhere here

I got a job-attachment for 1.5 months to Leiden, South Holland. I am delighted that my work as a research chemist does not confine me to the laboratory (which I initially feared) but also beyond the four chemical-laden walls. I am now doing computer simulations and modeling of chemical structures, so basically there’s a lot of software/programming work to learn for a dead-wood-in-computing like myself. Oh well, gotta survive in this industry by learning new knowledge every time.

Hi from Amsterdam!
De Valk  windmill in Leiden
One mustn’t miss the Leiden market on Weds and Sats.
Al fresco is what everyone here does. It’s summer!

One thing I felt blessed is that this job attachment-cum-training coincides with the 2nd trimester of my pregnancy. If you didn’t know, this trimester is the most comfortable for a pregnant woman to travel because of decreasing morning sickness and stabilization of the womb inherently associated with this trimester. And another blessing: the appetite has escalated these few weeks!

Mum and I in the apartment

Leiden is located approximately 35 km south of Amsterdam. It’s a large university town (like Serdang), and here lies the oldest university in The Netherlands, of course: Leiden University. Leiden is also the birthplace of Rembrandt van Rijn, the world’s most famous painter. Personally, his painting makes more sense than Van Gogh’s (but that’s just me). Leiden town is basically sustained by its locals and university students alike. It’s so much cleaner and fresher than hectic Amsterdam, and it’s just a 15-min bus ride to the beautiful tulip gardens of Keukenhof. Leiden is peaceful; it’s not that small nor large that you can’t enjoy the entire town by foot, having very considerate drivers and cyclists and has some established Asian restaurants here for my baby just in case he craves for some gu lou yok rice (well, that did happened ok. See pic below).

This is gu lou yok rice my little baby craved. Ordered for 1 pax, but came a portion for three (no wonder Dutch people are tallest in the world).

My baby is good boy, I guess. Although the nausea is still here some times, my baby allows me to walk between 2-10 km around Leiden town and its vicinity. He does not complain because somehow baby knows that mummy here was a marathon runner and wouldn’t let him complain anyway, because I want to walk as exercise. A walk from the my accommodation to my workplace within the university is approximately 2.1 km (one way), and if I feel tired after work or when the temperature drops to <10 deg C, I will take the bus. But of course, I would prefer to walk back to my accommodation to clock in another 2.1 km, but somehow the weather is still erratic. I am not impressed that summer temperatures can range from 7-23 degC. It’s sunny in the afternoon, and bamm, you get rain (the drizzle type) in the night. Some rain has got me into shivers and some had me run for shelter.

Chow mien, and tasted authentic.

Parents are here but only for 3 weeks. They make full use of the apartment by cooking chinese dishes for me. Yes, WARM dishes is what I deserve: ABC soup, bakkutteh, ginger chicken with rice, stir-fried (not broiled) broccoli with garlic, etc. The Dutch eats bread and sandwiches every single day – breakfast, dinner, lunch, and I wasn’t complaining in the first week as I love bread and dairy products such as Dutch gouda cheeses and milk, but I think I have had it too much. Sandwiches here are frequently served with cold-cut meats; it looked and tasted raw. Doubt there’s any bad bacteria in there but I think better avoid for pregnancy-sake.

Went to Amsterdam but was not impressed with the crowd. Amsterdam was very crowded on that particular holiday weekend, but more so, the people, cyclist here are less considerate and looked angry. Think KL vs. Ipoh drivers 🙂 In spite of that, Amsterdam is still worth a visit and has pretty with nice churches, architecture, and great museums. Made some milestone here: Walked 20 km(!) in total around Amsterdam, managed the famous Dutch pancake pannenkoek, went to eat at an Argentinian steakhouse, raked in some (free) cheeses, picnic by the park, and was part of the 500m queue to museums, not!

Dutch pancake with strawberries and syrup in Amsterdam – pannenkoek
Rijksmuseum featuring most of Rembrandt’s work.
500 m queue to Rijksmuseum. Also same length for Van Gogh Museum
Park in front of the Rijksmuseum having a picnic of a time!
Bitterballen is a Dutch snack
Steak and pasta, for a change

I was also in The Hague, which is this the administration capital of The Netherlands. Just 15 min by train from Leiden, it offers much better supermarkets and shopping escapades. Of course, it is a very very much larger city compared to Leiden – with an established China Town there. There’s an asian supermarket there but was ultimately disappointed there wasn’t bak kut teh mix sold. I am happy I made a quick trip to The Hague as initially I was just thinking of lazying in the hotel, reading some journal articles. Milestones in The Hague: Maruitshuis Museum containing Rembrandt’s self portrait and Vermeer’s Girl in a Pearl Earrings, Parliament house (Binnenhof), ChinaTown, Grote Market, Chinese restaurant (Fat Kee) and Primark to buy some quality baby clothing.

The Maritshuis
Like Mona Lisa, everyone wants to see her. But I am not quite sure why.
Got near to the very famous Vermeer’s Girl in a Pearl Earring.
Rembrandt’s last self-potrait before he died the same year he painted this.
Dutch Parliamentary area

Babymoon, it is.

I will be alone once again when they return to Malaysia very soon. But I am not quite lonely because for 2 weeks already, I started feeling my boy kicking. At one point, he kicked me so damn hard to request for me to rest from the over-walking around The Hague. I am so enjoying the freshest of air and good quality of life here, but this is not home. Where’s the teh tarik and nasi lemak in the morning? Where’s my bakkutteh and Sentul hokkien noodles? My heart is still back home, and my heart is now where my hubby is who could be lying there reading his economic book, or maybe ironing his own clothes, or giggling at some funny Cantonese movie. Miss you much, hubby!

Here are some photos of me and my parents Keukenhof, four days before it closes for the rest of the year.

The tulips has bloomed, indicating end of the season.
Can you believe the various colours of lilies here. I thought they only come in white and pink.
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