Sunday, June 24, 2007

First person we met at Delft

it has been 20 days here in Deflt. Within these 20 days, we have only been to Rijwijk once, and Den haag once, to get some legal documents done. Maybe because we migrated here as the highest level knowledge worker, the processing of our documents are much faster without any waiting. It is always a good feeling to be treated better, when you see others have to wait in lines. Although we are happy with our experiences in all these bureaucratic procedures, it still takes quite a lot of time and effort. In terms of dutch people, we think we will have a lot to learn, and discover.

The first is Vincent, the hotel manager where we lived for the first ten days. He is a strong man in his 40s, living with a dog named Kabo. He was born in the house he lives in, which he inherited from his parents, and turned it into a bed & breakfast place. I didn't see he is relating to anyone else, since I talked with him for too short time, and the major part he was introducing how to use his apartment that we were going to rent. That part was pleasant, we found out dutch windows can also open from the top, the microwave is also coming as a oven. He also mentioned to us that there is a studio will be available for 10 days after this apartment. I think the third day he also offered his address to let us use to register in the city hall. You should know that an address is so important for living in dutch...
Mr. Awaara says, it is so hard to be homeless in the Netherlands.

Things start changing when we are looking for the next step accommodations. He told us that there will be four days gap between this apartment and the studio, and he is offering help and send emails to all hotels in Delft to fill the four days' gap. He will still charge us 50 euro per night. He found us the cheapest for those four nights was 105 euro per night. We were looking forward to a lease starting from July 1. His studio will be available only till 29th. You can imagine how many moves ahead if we take his studio. And also because we found other options, we told him that we wouldn't rent it.

Here you see the difference from before: he replied email very prompt before, now he ignored all our emails, explaining why we won't take the studio.
Mr. Awaara felt bad to say no to him, but we really have no choice. We thought about living in a hostel in Rotterdam for a few days, but the cost is quite significant higher, then the options we found out later.

Anyway, I couldn't reach him any more. Phone calls go to his fax machine, and emails no reply. Before we leave I was going to do a laundry, and we couldn't operate the washer. I asked, still no reply. I have no other way just left the detergent there, and took away those dirty clothes to move with me at the end.

It was raining the morning we moved. I thought he might want to come to check the apartment.
Mr. Awaara went to his door. He showed up this time. He didn't care to check up, telling Mr. Awaara to change his address out of our registration in the town hall. We were hoping that he could allow us to be there until July1, but he is so determined that we have to change it in one or two days. By this time we have signed a lease, but haven't moved yet. I didn't see him this time. I once thought that I would buy flowers for Vincent to thank for his effort to help us in the first day we arrived. But later it seems that I couldn't even have a chance to meet with him. He refused to meet with me, since he might have to explain why he did not reply my emails. The first day I knew a person kind and jolly. But at the end, I have to convince myself that I might have done something wrong that have made this dutch person unhappy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

First story at Delft - getting lost

anyway, everything seems to be in the dutch language. Good that what i have written are still in English. It is Tuesday already, and I haven't gotten chance to write about our first day's adventure at Delft.

After getting off the Delft train station, each of us pulled two suitcases to look for taxi. There are two kinds of taxi we later know. One is a taxi booth, in which you can make a phone call to call a taxi, which is a cheaper and shared taxi. The other across the street, there are a few taxi already waiting. We don't know the exact trick that time, called the taxi, and later saw waiting taxi, so we pulled our luggage across the street.

The first taxi deserve the first business.
Mr. Awaara showed them the address, a hard to pronouce street name: Oosteinde straat 156. I just remembered 156.

The driver is an indian looking young guy, later he told me he was from Parkistan. He looked at our luggage and said that his car can not accomodate so much, whether we can take two taxi. ok, no problem. He went to the second waiting car to talk with the driver. Of course, no problem.
OK, so
Mr. Awaara and I, each in one car, I was in the front car, with the Parkistan guy, a dark blue color mercedeze. Mr. Awaara took the addree we printed to show again to the second driver. He was in a white \mercedeze. So we are ready to leave.

I was in the first car. The driver soon started the car, and I saw he has a GPS system in his car, quite big screen, different from the one I have seen in US. I turned back to look. There are a few turns after getting out of the station, and I didn't see the white Mercedeze coming. It shouldn't be far, the hotel manager told us it is about 10 euro fee.
"Do you have the address?" I was suddenly asked.
"WHAT?!?" "Didn't you see it??" ...."I only remember 156..."
"I just browsed it, I am not local here, don't know where it is..."

I can't tell what I exactly felt that time, angry, dissapointed, the same time, I was thinking fast to figure out a way to solve this problem: can you contact that driver? no, i don't know him.
ok, then there is only one way i can find out the address of our hotel, find me an internet place. I can check my email and tell you where it is.

We went back to the train station. He thought there should be internet cafe close to the train station. He went to ask a few persons, and they all didn't know. 'Do you have a map of Delft? I might be able to point out where it is. '

I suddenly remember that
Mr. Awaara showed me the hotel on the map, and the relationship with his office. I remember there was a big canal taking a turn around that area, and we were to the north.
He went to dig his trunk and his glove box, no.

"Is that possible that white car driver will come back to the station?"
"I don't know, he might go to some other places."

As we talking about this, a white color taxi with top light on one side of the roof came on our way. 'isn't this the one?'

The driver slowed down, and told him "Oosteinde straat 156". Good, we are saved.

Now let's go. He seems to input the address in the car GPS, we were on our way again. We went into the canals and one way roads in the old city. Suddenly we saw a machenic repairing truck on our way, staying there, no sign of moving. He keep driving,... why?...he stops right behind the car, and started backing up...then he turned on another one way street, again another parked car, again driving till the point he can't go further, and then backing...I couldn't understand the logic here, why do you have to go all the way there and back?

Then he finally get on a street, and stopped in front of a number 156. 'Here it is'. What is shown is several mailboxes outside with one person's name behind number 156.
no, i am going to a hotel, not someone's apartment.

He has to lower his window and ask people passing by. That person seems not knowing what he said. I sat behind him, and quickly lower my window and asked "do you know a place where you can only live there unless you would rent it for at least a month?" This is the only knowledge i have about the hotel, since everything else
Mr. Awaara was taking in charge.

His face told me he didn't know.

"Are you Mrs
Mr. Awaara?" A tall Dutch guy in brown color tshirt ran towards the car with short breath.
"yes, no, I am not ... , but yes, I am. I am his wife..."

OK, now i am found.

The rest of the story is, the guy who came to us is Vincent. He is the hotel manager. He sent
Mr. Awaara half way to walk to the train station because he was so anxious about losing his wife. Then he saw this taxi asking for diretions and came to ask. He showed the driver the way and we went back to hotel. I don't have any money with me, so Vincent paid for the taxi first for me. He complained the meter shows 22 euro, but Vincent told him that was his fault, and gave him 10 only. I waited in Vincent's dinning room and he gave me a glass of water. We waited for another 20 minutes and Mr. Awaara came back.

Mr. Awaara's story: he soon found out that his wife's taxi didn't arrive to the same place. Vincent helped him to call the taxi company and let the white mercedez to go back to the train station. He walked to the station and saw a police on bike. The police didn't look like worried at all, and told him that if the taxi couldn't find the place, they should come back to the station. Then later, he saw the blue mercedez, and the Parkistan driver told him that I was home.

Friday, June 8, 2007

First impression on this little town

Today is the fourth day here at Delft. We came here on Monday morning, and so many things have happened, and so many new things we have experienced. Having an almost new starting of our life in the Europe, we have been thinking of writing blogs... maybe today's writing will later become my first blog post. It might be the best season for this old small town, many tourists are hanging around. We can easily hear some American accent tourists. Water lilies quietly lay on top of the cannal, with white flowers opening elegantly among those flat leaves. I am sitting in the first hotel we stays, we are not sure how many more we have to stay before we can finally find a long term rental. Kids playing behind our backyard door seem to have just left, they made the only noise i can hear from the apartment at the moment, and they are gone. It is quiet and peaceful, I am home alone. Sunday evening, we left Boston Logan airport. The whole family went to the airport to see us off. It is always sad to be separated, Jingjing put her face towards my lap, and cried... a little girl...OK, let me write the story that seems to be the first day adventrue of ours.