Last Entry on the Road

Trip Start Dec 26, 2005
Trip End Jan 25, 2009

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Deep down I know I'm ready to go home, but I head home with a sense of trepidation. After everything I've been through I am kind of nervous that I will get home and want to get back on the road again... I've got use to this type of living. Even though my new found finances probably don't permit returning to roaming RTW (thanks to yet another 3% fall on markets... what is going on?), my remaining 6 months of leave will give me new-found freedom of branching out to anywhere in Australia or returning to South East Asia... clearly the highlight of my trip. Interestingly, my best friend who has since moved to Melbourne has recommended against going to Melbourne because Perth is a lot friendlier... which I think I will do. It will be interesting to see how my frame of mind changes once home in Perth. Even though my friends and family are excited that I'm returning (I think they are?), I go home with such an enriched view of the world in which we live, especially Asia. I have developed a new love of Asia, one of which I did not have before I left. I have an appreciation for Asian people, their culture, their food etc. I can't wait to get back to South East Asia.

Anyway, my night at the White Tulip was very uncomfortable indeed. The room was a scorcher, I was on the top bunk bed and church bells were ringing outside my window. I thought SE Asia was going to be tough... but at least my cheapest rooms in Asia had fans. I find it uncomprehensible that this budget hostel can charge such an exorbitant amount. I did, however, meet Rob from Sydney who has just begun his bus-about experience in Europe who was good to talk to... I'm sure that if I continued backpacking in Europe, I would meet more and more people. But I just don't think I'm up for it. I'm aching for my own place, my own comforts, and the ease of routine... even though the next 6 months will give me a lot more freedom than full-time work affords. The lack of money gives me an extra excuse for not continuing my journey. I will return to Spain, Portugal and South America... but for shorter durations and with a higher budget. I'll probably do tours through South America.

Amsterdam itself is a real hoot... the Red Light District is beyond belief. Girls hidden behind glass doors are available for anything you like. They're cheaper than I thought as well. One black girl, with the largest bust I've seen, offered me 'the works' for 30 euro ($55). Some of them are drop dead ugly and should have another job. Anything goes here... I had a beer in a coffee shop and was shown the menu for a wide range of marijuana... I passed given that I'm not into smoking. But I still got a bit stoned from the very strong smoke being passed my way. It's hard to describe the atmosphere... you need to get here to experience it for yourself. But I think 2 nights is enough.

I visited Anne Frank's house today. I read Anne's diaries a couple of years ago and was adamant that I'd get back to visit the house with a deeper understanding of her ordeal. It all started on July 6, 1942 when Anne and her family took up residence in the building on the Prinsengracht. Later, a few other people would join them. After 2 years and 1 month on August 4, 1944, the German Security Police received an anonymous phone call that Jews were hiding at 263 Prinsengracht. The hiding place was betrayed. Nobody knows by whom. Anne contracted typhus and died just a few days after her sister in March 1945 in Bergen-Belsen. The museum houses her original diaries. Her mother, Edith Frank became ill and died of exhaustion on January 6, 1945 in Auschwitz. Her sister, Margot contactracted typhus as well and died at Bergen-Belsen. Anyone that comes to Amsterdam must add this sight to their list of things to do... it sure is a moving story.

I was very impressed by how the museum retained the original feel of the house, the secret annex, the narrow stair way, the secret book case (with files dating back to the 40s) and photos everywhere that portrayed the quality of living. I was interested to note that the floor boards were quite squeeky and wondered how they kept so quiet during the day? It was a moving experience standing in the exact spot where Anne wrote her diaries. The pictures she posted on her bedroom wall are still there. Otto Frank, Anne's father was the only family member to survive Auschwitz. He returned to Amsterdam in June, 1945. Otto remarieed in 1953 and went to live in Switzerland... and died in 1980. The museum also provide exhibitions on themes such as prejudice, discrimination, and human rights abuses etc.

The nightlife is pretty good here. The food is in abundance and there are full coffee houses everywhere. It's a good atmosphere but the weather is awful... very hot and humid... takes me back to Bangkok where the weather was also a scorcher.

Well, this may be it... my last entry on the road. Tomorrow I leave Amsterdam at 11:10am for London, where I will board my Malaysian Airlines flights to Perth (19:10), via Kuala Lumpur. It will be an epic journey, but I have home at the end of it. I'm so glad I've written this travelpod for its given me a permanent record of my journey through Asia and Europe, stay in contact with those interested, and enable others without the means to travel to share the experience... both good and bad. I will update all photos when back in Australia... Until then, take care and happy travelling:)

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