amazing adventures of asraf angullia

Saturday, December 30, 2006

my trip to hemsedal...

Saturday, 29th December 2006 – 10:24pm Singapore time

So I spent two days at Hemsedal as kinda last trip before hitting home soil… Hemsedal is a small city which lies on the west coast of Norway… When I say small city, I mean village cos there was absolutely nothing there!! I really don’t know what the residents occupy their time with cos there’s only like two or three miserable cafés there, two supermarkets and one sports store… Even Orchard Road is bigger than the city centre… I am *not* kidding…

Anyways, we were not there for the any form of city sightseeing (thank God!) but to enjoy the greatness of Norwegian nature… So here’s what happened:

I had to wake up rather early on Thursday morning to catch the 9am bus to Hemsedal… The whole ride took us about four hours and it was a comfortable bus ride as there were less than ten people on board… Besides, Lars made good company…

We arrived at the city centre with two hours to kill, so we just went to look around, snap some pictures and hung out at a café until Hilde arrived… Hilde was one of the tour organisers… She works with her husband Knut to organise trips and holiday experiences for tourists…

So we hopped into Hilde’s car and she drove us to their home which was very beautiful… It was a loghouse which was built the traditional Norwegian way… Very solid and oh-so-cosy! We were served some tea and chatted with Knut a little bit about the dynamics behind building the perfect loghouse… Knut doesn’t really know how to speak English, but I could understand bits and pieces of what he was saying (in Norwegian)…

After we were done with tea, it was time for the sleigh ride! Knut loves horses and has built himself a reputation for being an excellent horse breeder and trainer… He is also popular for organising one-horse open sleigh rides! So yup, I was riding through the snow, on a one-horse open sleigh, over the hills I went, but didn’t really laugh all the way at the risk of scaring the people around me… Hehe…

So the sleigh ride was to this clearing in the woods where there was a tepee set up… The tepee or lavvo as the Norwegians call it was what the native Saami people of the North call home… And it would be the place we call home that night too… I was a little nervous being outdoors in such a cold and snowy place, but the healthy fire in the middle of the lavvo gave me some measure of assurance… There was also a lot of hay stacked up and reindeer skins to help make the lavvo warmer… After we dropped our bags, Knut showed us around the camp area; the toilet, the outdoor wooden tub which was filled with hot water, the grill to heat up food and where we could get extra fire torches and other supplies… I felt like I was back in the army except this time, there was snow instead of grass…

Lars and I then settled down a little and unpacked some of our things… Soon, Hilde came with dinner which she had just cooked… It was a nice meal of smoked salmon, potatoes, pureed turnips and wild berries on top… Absolutely divine! And for dessert, chocolate pudding with vanilla sauce! Yum…

After dinner, Hilde left us and so Lars and I were left to our own devices… We decided to relax a little before heading out to the tub for a bath… Being in the tub was great! Being in hot water while you’re in the harsh and cold outdoors is a really special feeling, which for me was akin to being in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland (the update which I will post up soon)….

So after we were done in the tub, we went back to the lavvo to dress up and prepare for bed… Knut left us some sleeping bags which were really thick and really long too… Norwegian size I suppose cos I felt like a malnourished caterpillar in an oversized cocoon after I zipped myself in…

I had a good night’s rest as I was kinda tired and so sleeping in the cold was no problem… Besides, we had a really huge fire going on and the sleeping bags were nice and comfy…

We awoke the next morning at about 7am to freshen up and clean up our living quarters a little bit… There were strong winds during the night which blew away some of the lanterns and fire torches outside the lavvo…

Breakfast then arrived on a snowmobile… We had eggs and lots of different jams with bread… After we were done with breakfast, the horse sleigh came by to pick us up back to the house… It was nicer to be travelling in daylight where you had a good view of the mountains and partially frozen waterfalls…

Once we were at the house, Knut’s assistant Vidar demonstrated to us how the wooden log cabins were built… It was done in Norwegian with some smatterings of English… Then came the fun part: Knut gave us some time to play with his snowmobile! I was really nervous as it had been months since I last operated any type of motorised vehicle… But it was really fun and Lars, who has experience with snowmobiles, gave me a lot of pointers and eventually I was ok… =)

After fooling around a little, Knut drove us to the mountains where he was going to take us for a snowmobile ride… It was craaaaazy! The winds were very strong and the only part of my body which was exposed, i.e. my eyes, was frozen in place… That was how cold it was! But it was really amazingly beautiful… We went up to about 1000 metres where Knut took a pee break! Can you imagine that? He actually dared to unzip himself and expose his nether regions in such torridly cold conditions… I was in awe…

Anyways, we went back to the start point and that also marked the end of the Hemsedal trip… It was time to head back to Oslo… We said out goodbye and thanks to Knut and family and boarded the bus back home…

Friday, December 29, 2006

100th post!

Friday, 29th December 2006 - 11:13pm Singapore time

Back in Singapore, babies! =) This is also a special post cos it's my 100th blog entry! Hehe...

I actually had a special Norway farewell post prepared, but something went wrong with my internet connection, so it shall have to wait...

I have unpacked most of my things, and am a little tired now... So we'll catch up soon!

Ha det bra!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

jack frost nipping on your nose...

Sunday, 24th December 2006 – 12:30pm Oslo time

It’s Christmas Eve! Season’s Greetings to one and all, especially to my beloved family and friends back home… Special shout out to Aunty Evelyn who I’m quite sure will be reading this… Merry Christmas Aunty Evelyn!! Love ya lots and am looking forward to seeing you again really soon…

The picture you see here is of Knut and I on a snow-mobile up on an absurdly cold and windy mountain at Hemsedal… It was so cold that I only felt warm because I was wearing a million layers so that I will end up looking like a polar bear and it was so windy that there were a few occasions where I was literally blown away, despite being as fat as an offspring of a polar bear and a teletubby… Anyways, I will post a full update on my really special trip to Hemsedal soon… I do not want to do it now because most of the pictures are with Lars, the friend whom I went with… Once he passes me the pictures, I will do it ya? =)

In other news, Miss Lindsay has left for home!! =( Very sad, but we promised to keep in touch with each other… I miss you already Linds!

Also, it looks like I will have a semi-white Christmas? It’s hard to say cos it hasn’t been snowing that much but the ground is all white cos it’s cold… So, I dunno… Anyways, the city is kinda quiet and dead now cos so many people have gone back home for the holidays… My student residence is like a ghost town too… Creepy la… But it somehow reminds me of the time when I first moved here… I came to Oslo rather early and there were not many at that time… So I’m coming to one full circle now… :) Especially since I am meeting Mahmood tomorrow…. It’s just like going back to my first day here although I know for sure that this time I won’t have trouble finding him… Hehe…

Alrighty then, I’m off for some lunch now… Till the next update!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Happy Birthday Fiqin!

Sunday, 17th December 2006 – 11:28am Oslo time

Today is a really special day because my favourite boy in the whole wide world turns 12! Hehe… Happy 12th Birthday to Syafiq, my little bro! =) Hope you’ll receive a lot of cool presents and that you will be blessed with good health and lots of good fortune always! Congratulations for doing well in your PSLE, I am very proud of you and really hope you’ll make it to the school of your choice… I know you will keep working hard and whine less cos you’re a big boy now… Hehe… I love you lots and really miss you here… Can’t wait to be back again to see you…

Also a special shout out to my family back home… Miss you guys a lot and hope everyone is doing well over there! Heard you people had a blast in Medan, keep on rocking during these hols! Hehe…


In other news, it’s *finally* getting colder! The temperature today is -4c and I hope it goes lower so we can have some snow coming in… I might get a white Christmas after all!

Also, there had been sightings of the Northern Lights right here in Oslo! Ain’t that exciting? Well, it first happened on Thursday night at around 1 am, but I was not awake to experience it cos I was already resting in bed in preparation for the exam on Friday morning…

But it also happened on Friday night and I was *awake* when it happened, but silly me forgot to draw open the curtains… Bodoh sia…

So last night, I went up to a small and dark hill with my friend Frank in hopes of catching a glimpse of the lights…. Freezing like crazy la and I was wearing a million layers of clothes…. We waited for about one and a half hours, but no luck…. Sigh… But I did see two shooting stars! Really nice ones too… And Frank saw one… So it wasn’t *so* bad, but it would have been more special if we could have seen the lights, especially since both of us have never seen it before…

Oh, I also have a sad story to share… I almost flunked my Norwegian written exam!! Sad right? The thing is, the exam begins with a dictation exercise and the rules are strict: if you come even a minute after 9am, they will not let you in and missing the dictation means you burn 40% of your marks… So it was really serious crap… So on the day of the exam, I set my alarm and I woke up on time… But being the bodoh that I am, I kinda went back to sleep and that’s when the shit happened… I was late!! I was late! So I ran out of my room like some mad man, almost killed one of my neighbours and *ran* all the way to school…

It was one of the worst runs I’ve ever had… I wasn’t wearing the right shoes, my bag was kinda heavy and the roads were a little icy, so I almost fell down a few times… It was so dramatic la…. I was the last person to be admitted into the exam hall before they locked the doors for the dictation… Phew!

Needless to say, I was very disoriented and flustered while I was doing my paper… The dictation went on fine but I somehow couldn’t focus much on other aspects of the paper… Plus, my legs were starting to cramp up cos I didn’t warm up, ran and didn’t cool down before sitting… All in all: it SUKCED!

I know I will at least pass this thing and the grade I get is not too important, but it’s sad cos I know I could have done better if I wasn’t in such a bad state… Oh well, we’ll see how it goes…

And response to the quiz seems to be bad… I wonder why… Haha… Whatever the case, here are the answers:

-bra (adjective) “good, fine”

-seng (noun)
“bed”

-penger (noun)
“money”

-laks (noun)
“salmon”

-egg (noun)
“egg! Haha!”

-odd (noun)
“typical Norwegian name for boys! Hehe!”

-by (noun)
“town or city centre”

-bo (verb)
“live”

-billig (adjective)
“cheap”

-gutt (noun)
“boy”

-skip (noun)
“ship”

-sterk (adjective)
“strong”

-snakke (verb)
“speak”

-sted (noun)
“place”

-jul (noun)
“Christmas!”

Yup, and we actually have two winners!! Danny and Reza! Yay! They both had four correct answers each! Woo hoo! Since it was a Norwegian quiz, the prize will be something very Norwegian... You guys will find out when I come home of course... And Rohana gets a special mention for making a not-so-successful attempt at the quiz… But still, yay Rohana! =)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

quiz time!

Thursday, 14th December 2006 – 9:23pm Oslo time

I am revising for my Norsk written exam tomorrow and I am getting kinda bored… So here’s a little quiz for you guys… I’m gonna put up a list of Norwegian words which are pretty interesting and I wanna you guys to try and guess what they mean and post up your answers in the comments section… I will include their grammatical categories as hints… Whoever has the most correct guesses will win a special prize! =)

-bra (adjective)

-seng (noun)

-penger (noun)

-laks (noun)

-egg (noun)

-odd (noun)

-by (noun)

-bo (verb)

-billig (adjective)

-gutt (noun)

-skip (noun)

-sterk (adjective)

-snakke (verb)

-sted (noun)

-jul (noun)

PS: *NO* cheating hor!! And the contest ends when I post my next blog entry, which will probably be on Saturday morning Singapore time. Answers and the winner will also be revealed.

shattered dreams...

Thursday, 14th December 2006 – 1:58pm Oslo time

The merlion was created as a tourist-luring gimmick?! (refer to Nurul’s comments from the entry below for full story) *gasp* It’s like my whole world has come shattering down! I’ve always imagined some sort of nice ‘legend-type’ story behind the creation of that damn animal, that perhaps it existed in some mythology or whatever la! I just thought it was anything else but a stupid marketing scam to get unsuspecting tourists to spend money on us! Oh, cruel world! I feel like some kid who’s just found out that Santa Claus doesn’t exist…. Or the tooth fairy…. Or the Easter Bunny… Very sad lor… I mean I know that there are no such things as merlions, but I thought there would at least be a cool story behind it… *sob* Don’t want to talk about it already la…

Anyways, there is sun today! Woo hoo! Although it is already setting now, it is still very visible and even though I can’t feel its warmth, the rays of light which touch my face give me that very lovely feeling of safety and comfort… Now I kinda can’t wait to get home and experience all the sun there… Hehe…

I am still *very* behind with all the shopping… Like no mood la… Haha… I have a feeling that it will all be very last minute and very rushed… Hee… We’ll see… =)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tuesday's entry...

Tuesday, 12th December 2006 – 6:48pm Oslo time

First things first, Happy Birthday Ma'am Nora!! Hope things are all good with little Zach at home... Can't wait to see him again when I come back... =)

So I had *the* presentation yesterday evening… In my opinion, I really sucked, but everyone else seemed to like it… The thing is, I emailed Astrid a copy of my presentation text on Thursday night but somehow, my email didn’t reach her… So I emailed her my text again yesterday afternoon and by the time she sent a reply, I was already out making my way to school… Hence, I wasn’t able to review the corrected version of the text until like half an hour before my presentation… That kinda put me off balance… I had already memorised the old version of my text and trying to present the corrected text was really tough cos I wasn’t sure when the corrected bits would come… Well, you guys get my point… I just didn’t do well…

On the flipside, my classmates liked it… After I was done, one of friends came up to me to tell me it was good… And while we were having a break, the French-Japanese guy in my class, Noël, who has never spoken to me before, actually came up to me and told that he thought my presentation was good and he now wants to come and visit me in Singapore… He also told me about how it was living in Japan for 17 years and we even talked about rice… Weird but fun…

There’s also a Q&A after every presentation and one of the questions I was asked was the origins of the merlion… That actually stumped me… I said that a possible explanation was the fact that we’re called the “Lion-city” and that we had our beginnings as a fishing village… Hence the lion head and the fish body… Make sense? Does anyone know? Well, it was the best explanation I could provide using Norwegian…

Yeah, so even though I kinda screwed things up, the presentation slides themselves were good enough to compensate for my poor performance… At least that’s what I think…

Moving on, I met Lindsay for lunch today and we made a trip to Ikea! Hehe… I managed to get candles this time, and some of the other stuff I was looking for but as usual, there was always something missing…. Frank asked me to help him buy some picture frames and it was the one thing I couldn’t find! Grrr… There were plenty of frames of course, but not the exact ones which I was looking for… I can *never* have good luck at Ikea it seems… I officially hate the place…

Anyways, as you would know, the sun starts setting at around 3pm these days… And that’s if you get some sun cos it’s usually very cloudy… My point is, I miss the sun! I miss it like mad and I never thought it would be affecting me this much… I feel more lethargic and seem to need more sleep… Sigh… Time to stock up on Vitamin D I guess…

To Yatee: Erm, I’ve actually asked Frank if we could use the picture for the cover and he’s agreeable to it provided that due credit is given to it of course… He can also provide a version with a better resolution so that it won’t look weird when enlarged…

To Reza and Nurul: Thanks for thinking it’s good enough to make it to the cover! Haha… Like malu, but also quite exciting… If it happens of course... ;p

Saturday, December 09, 2006

the weekend of freedom....

Saturday, 9th December 2006 – 3:43pm Oslo time

It’s the weekend! Yay! I’m kinda happy cos I’m actually done with my powerpoint presentation! Sourcing out for the right pictures for the slides was kinda hard… Sometimes you find the perfect image, but encounter problems such as the image not being big enough or problems with downloading them… But I’ve finally got all the shit down and even worked out the animation and stuff… I hope my classmates will find it good if not fascinating… Hehe…

Heading over to Lindsay’s later… She’s making dinner! Woo hoo! Lindsay’s a great cook, so I’m really looking forward to it… We plan to go shopping together too… =)

Oh, for those of you who think that the picture I have below is some makeover picture, you are *so* absolutely wrong! In fact, the picture was taken in the shower! Haha… I’m not kidding! ;pp My Norwegian flat-mate Frank is an avid photographer (and a good one too!) and he suddenly got into one of his ‘moods’, so my Taiwanese flat-mate Gavin and I were made the victims… We had to go to the shower area cos it had the nicest white background and were made to preen and pose with the bottles of shower foam and shampoo… Hehe…

And of course, the picture was photoshopped like crazy la… My hair was super messy that day and so Frank cut it out of the picture and I think only my family would notice that the mole on my cheek has been erased… It’s not a very prominent mole, so many people don’t notice it, Frank included cos he conveniently brushed over the thing… Yup, so the secret is out… I’ve been getting my pictures taken in the bathroom… ;p

I had some other pictures taken too, so perhaps you guys will get to see those as well… Well, enjoy your weekend people… As stale as they may be, I will post up updates and pictures of my trips very soon… Take care!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

asraf has been gone for four months?

Friday, 8th December 2006 – 12:03am Oslo time

My exams are over!! Woo hoo! And it’s my fourth month in Oslo! Woo hoo! *super massive booty shake* Ok, so they had been over since two days ago, but I was too tired to do anything after submitting my last paper, so I just slept… I’m serious when I say this: *NEVER* had I been so tired because of exams! Three home exams and two four-hour school exams are no joke!

Especially when some of them overlap… I had a school exam on Tuesday morning and after the exam, I had to work on my paper which was due the next morning… I was exhausted but had no choice but to work… I only slept at 4am that day… Woke up at 10am to hand in the paper, and then slept…

I’ve been sleeping quite a lot, but remnants of the exhaustion are still in my body... But yeah, at least I get to relax now…

Oh, and before I carry on with the update, big shout-out to the following people:

Hajar!!: A *gazillion* thanks to you for helping me with the research for my Global English paper… I seriously owe you big time la… Free dinner for you when I come back... Hehe… Lova ya lots and see ya soon! =)))

Rohana: Thanks for the nice comments on my blog… Very, very sweet la you… Hehe…

Reza: Thanks for the support babe!

Frank and Kai: For helping me with my presentation! Tusen takk!

So I went to the movies today with my friend from school Lars… My first time ever watching a movie here in Norway cos it’s sooo bleeding expensive… FYI, it’s about S$21 to watch a movie… We watched “Borat”… It was kinda ok, but I didn’t really like it… Not sure why cos the people in the movie theatre were laughing like mad… I did laugh, but not as hard as they did… Dunno la, maybe I lost my sense of humour? *gasp*

I have a presentation on Monday and it’s gonna be totally in Norwegian!! Haha… Hope it goes well… I am gonna tell my friends a few things about Singapore… hehe… Will update you guys on how it goes…

Now that I have more free time, I will spend it going shopping!! *groan* I need to get Christmas pressies for my Norwegian (and some no so Norwegian) friends… Also, need to buy gifts for you people back home lor!! Hehe… So be nice to me, cos I am making a list and I am sooo gonna check it twice… ;p

God helg! (means have a good weekend in norsk)

Friday, December 01, 2006

three down, two to go!!

Saturday, 2nd December 2006 – 1:39am Oslo time

Firstly, I’d like to apologise to Nurul for not updating my blog and traumatising her with the picture of the ‘dead’ guy… Sorry babe! Paiseh! I know how depressing it might be for you to see him everytime you click on the link to my blog, especially during hard times like these… I like to post pictures on my blog, makes it look pretty and usually, I try to find pictures which represent the main story in my blog… Hehe… Ok, enough rambling for now…

Also special thanks to Yateeee and Hajar for their well wishes! All the best to the both of you too! *big hugs from Oslo*

So I had my Old English exam yesterday morning… It was surprisingly quite doable… I actually suffered a *major* panic attack the night before… I was still feeling the lethargy of writing the history paper but had no choice but to cram in as much new info as I could about stupid old English… After some hours of studying, I kinda tried to answer some sample exam questions which the professor had given to us a few weeks ago and I couldn’t do any of them without referring to my notes!! I was so stressed out I couldn’t sleep till about 3am and I had to get up at 7am for the exam…

And so I did wake up at 7am and grudgingly made my way to school… It was the most depressing walk to school I ever had!! Seriously… I soon arrived and was a little glad to see my classmates though the nervousness made me a little more quiet than usual… At 9am, the exam commenced and it was ok!! Yes! It was ok!! The translation exercise was doable and I managed to answer the grammar-based questions and also managed to write a relatively well-structured essay about the religious leanings of the old Anglo-Saxon community!! *super duper huge sigh of relief*

But it hurt me soooo much!! It was a *four* hour exam and my hand hurt so much from all the writing that I actually had to take a break from writing to massage my hand a little before I wrote the conclusion to my essay… Four-hour exams are definitely no fun… But it’s over!! O-V-E-R!! I feel so much better now even though I have another take-home exam going on right now… I have five days for this one and it’s for a class I really like, so it’s all cool…

My Norwegian friend Frank bought me a Christmas calendar… It’s basically a calendar thingy with little perforated windows which you tear one out each day till it’s Christmas… So you start with “1” and of course end with “25”… Behind each little window lies a little piece of yummy chocolate… So you get a yummy treat everyday and hopefully get a big one on Christmas day itself… hehe…

Doing this has also made me realise that it is but 27 more days before *I* head back home to the sunny island we all call Singapore… It’s kinda surreal and my feelings about this couldn’t be more mixed… I have lived here close to four months now and I feel so settled in… I’m even okay with the weather and all the @#$%-ing rain… *BUT* I also miss home; all my family and friends especially… And I miss the goddamned good food we have at home… So yeah, I guess it’s like dying… I don’t mean to be so morbid and talk about death all the time, but it’s a recurring theme don’t you think? It’s like I only have about a month left to live over here… And then I go… I’ll leave behind some traces of myself perhaps, memories with the friends I made and pictures maybe, but besides that, I’m gone… They may remember me, but they may never see me again… Maybe this is as close to feeling death as one can get… Ok, I have to *STOP* being morbid!!

Happy thoughts!! So in this entry we have happy pictures… The first one is of my classmates from Norsk class! Yay classmates!! Well, some of them are from another group, but we’re all classmates!! Yay! It’s not hard to spot me… I’m like the one with the darkest skin… And my hair looks like crap… Boo…

The next happy picture is one of me with my really good friend Thomas!! Yay Thomas! Hehe… Like I said before, I will really miss him… I never thought I could find a Norwegian version of Jamal, but I actually did… hehe… Jamal jangan jealous, I still love you… *wink* I had to tiptoe a little in this picture to avoid looking too short next to my dear friend… He’s too tall la! =) Tommy's not in the picture because he did not come for class that day... Sad...

Yup, so as I countdown to the last days of my exam, I also countdown the days to Christmas and countdown to the days when I will eventually leave this place which I know as home and back to where I belong… Back for good? Maybe… We’ll see… :)