Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Tourists Paid but Didn't Fly: Anti-Asian Anti-China/Chinese Amsterdam, Europe

9.45a.m. Monday 2021

Amsterdam? You want "not rowdy" tourists who would appreciate your city? Well,  you have just scared 2 away. What a pity for the Netherlands and a waste for us. 

I tried to defy all odds in order to go but itz not Covid that stopped us. Itz anti-Chinese reports coming out of Amsterdam, Europe and the USA. 

At this point in time,  my brother and I should be in the hotel room in Amsterdam planning on going somewhere already planned last night. Today this Monday,  the Albert Cuyp Market will be open. So that will be the first thing we will be going to. Landing at 6.50am at Schiphol airport yesterday Sunday, we would have missed Albert Cuyp Market since it's closed on Sundays. What is after Albert market today? I don't know. I don't plan until I get to Amsterdam. Will there be time enough for Philips museum at Eindhoven and get back to our Amsterdam hotel by evening? Probably not if we spend too much time at the market. 

We would have spent some Euros on food and maybe bought some interesting vintage items or anything. We would be strolling and enjoying the canals and beautiful summer scenery and trying out their coffees that bloggers have been raving about. This morning,  we would have just woken up in a nice quality bed with crisp white sheets in the expensive (yet the cheapest for its quality in all the accommodation listings) hotel room, showering and thinking of where to go for the rest of the day. 

Would we have completed our 9 nights and 10 days enjoyably without Anti-Chinese or Anti-Asian incident? We will never know. 

Because we didn't go. I paid for the flights from Singapore to Amsterdam and Amsterdam to Bucharest, Romania, plus 9 nights of an Amsterdam hotel room,  but we didn't board the 777-300 plane on Saturday 11.55pm.

We will never know if all of that happened as imagined. Whether we succeeded in finding the hotel on Saturday morning after landing, whether we were happy. 

We will never know whether we got from Schiphol airport to the hotel intact, safe from Anti-Chinese hate attacks . Whether we got a taxi or took the tram to the hotel. Whether we boarded the tram without incident if we had chosen that mode of public transportation. 

We will never know what it was like taking the tram. Or how difficult, or easy, it was to use their OV chip cards. 

We will never know what the food at Albert Cuyp taste like. Or what it would have been like to browse the stalls while walking through this "largest" street market in Europe. 

We intended to visit Philips museum in Eindhoven because my brother is a fan of their lightbulbs. My plan was to stay at Amsterdam the whole time and explore other regions of the Netherlands via trains and trams. For Eindhoven, I planned to take train from Amsterdam to Eindhoven and return to Amsterdam by evening because it's said that Eindhoven at night is not safe. 

Bro has been looking up to Philips as an inspiration. But now we won't know what it feels like inside the museum or what we would have seen. The museum gave us more of a reason to visit the Netherlands since we know nothing of the country. 

I certainly wasn't aware of "slanted-eyes" bullying that has been practised in the Netherlands for years, to the extent of tormenting Asian children throughout their childhood, or that Asian hate has now progressed to "gratuitous violence"---spike in reports due to Corona/Covid blaming China.

I have been so desperate to leave Singapore that although I read of the Anti-Chinese rally in Amsterdam,  I presumed it happened to Dutch-Chinese living there and not to tourists. I assumed that as tourists,  we would be spared. Though an Anti-Asian rally happened just 2 months ago,  I thought the unrest had perhaps cooled and it should be fine to travel there. Besides,  thus far,  I haven't read of a report where tourists were targeted.

I didn't want to check up on Amsterdam or Romania because they are only 2 out of 3 countries that we can go to without tests or quarantine (Romania is also cheaper overall than Amsterdam.). The other country--Albania--is difficult or impossible to access without going through horrible European airlines from Amsterdam,  and no direct flight from Singapore to Albania. 

Croatia that used to allow free entry for Singaporeans, is off-limits without tests and vaccination. Same for Turkey (I assume it's due to the discovery of UK/Delta variant in Singapore that Singapore was taken out of their list for green entry without restrictions). 

I didn't want to know (even though there was a nagging feeling to check). I didn't want to see any negative reports about Amsterdam or Romania because there was no other choice besides Amsterdam and Romania. I had to assume they are safe. That's how much I needed to leave Singapore. 

But after booking and paying,  it occurred to me that I should just have a look online. Googled "Asians and Covid and Amsterdam".  And did the same for Romania. 

All the ugliness came up. Amsterdam's anti-Asian discrimination, Romania's pickpockets, stray dogs, snatch thieves, child beggars and old buildings that are the verge of collapse due to government policy that don't incentivize them being torn down. 

It was a moment of revelation completely different from the romanticized bloggings. 

The more I read of the anti-Chinese situation in Amsterdam, and the attacks in Europe and  the USA,  the more fearful I got. Oh my God moment. 

This was serious news. They have started  physical violence against Chinese or Chinese-looking persons. They don't care where you are from. They attack before you can even explain. 

And I had just paid for the Amsterdam hotel and Bucharest flight. The booking platforms state no refunds in the event of cancellation or no-show. 

It was either forfeit the money or forfeit our lives if we fly there. 

I so much wanted to go. I already booked and paid, and for weeks, prepared things to bring. I even had a hard time with my brother in opening a new global multi-currency account with OCBC bank (don't do that unless you need the cards over the counter on the spot). 

Took an hour or more just to open the account linked to a savings account which I also had to open to get the global multi-currency account. 

I put total $9500 ($5930 euros) combined into the 2 accounts. Was prepared to put more if not enough during travel. 

I planned to stay longer in the Netherlands but too expensive. So based on cheapest airfare days,  it became reduced to just 9 nights. We would then leave for Romania and stay there for 1 month or 2 and see how. 

I paid total $3073.15 ($1918 euros) inclusive of OCBC's expensive exchange rates back and forth, but we didn't go to Amsterdam or Bucharest. Flight 777-300 left Singapore at 11.55p.m. for Amsterdam on Saturday with 2 empty seats that I had chosen and Paid for with care. 

All because of anti-Asian hate attacks now across Europe and the USA. 

Stupid Europe say they want tourists.  Actually,  they want only Caucasian tourists. 

If as Europe says, their economies are dying due to lack of tourist cash,  then I say for Amsterdam,  penis-suit-wearing tourists is all you are going to get since Netherlands and the rest of Europe are cutting out a big chunk of Asian money. 

Amsterdam pretends to be prim and proper by announcing they only want tourists who respect their "beautiful" city.  Well, my brother and myself have respect but after reading online reports of attacks,  Amsterdam and the rest of Europe won't be getting our money. The downside is that we don't get to see any beautiful European sceneries either. Lose-lose situation. 

What is so beautiful about a country that has been tormenting other people since childhood? 

All the online posts about travel destinations and how many European countries are open for travel are for Europeans and Americans. All the positive reviews are from European/Caucasian bloggers. Their experiences are unsurprisingly positive. What about experiences of Asian tourists? 

Europe makes travel difficult by wanting the digital travel pass which I already blogged is big mistake. Plus they haven't controlled the Covid numbers low enough yet they are opening to tourists. Plus there's anti-Chinese or anti-Asian discrimination. Now is not the time for such discrimination if you want money. 

As tourists entering your country,  we run the risk of bumping into Covid and its more contagious variant Delta. Plus the amount of money spent just planning a trip to your country. Just to see...

Discrimination and racist treatment against us who are not even from China? Just to see old architecture and canals? 

Do we even have time to explain that we are from Singapore before we get attacked? 

Europe needs to do better for tourist dollars.

At first and even now,  I regret spending that money without checking the countries more factually first instead of just reading travel blogs. My defence is that it is a reflection of how badly I want to leave Singapore. 

Yet  I cannot regret not going because the latest news is that Europe is unable to control Delta virus. 

While booking,  I also considered that there's a risk of virus exploding. Airports may close,  stranding us in Amsterdam whereby we don't have so much money for long stay . We cannot return to Singapore even if we are not stranded because returning means $2000 quarantine in hotel room for 14 days. 

So we'll be floating around outside. 

Europe wants tourists but European countries also need to consider how hard it is for travellers from Asia to get there. If you want European or Caucasian or American tourists only,  then say so. 

I still want to go to Europe. Even though I see online that Amsterdam has toilets problem. But I don't know when, if ever, I am going. 

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Age Discrimination in Singapore as bad as Anti-Asian Anti-Chinese in Europe and USA

5.40pm Tues 29 June 2021

I notice Singaporeans, due to their small village mentality,  cannot discern situations before offending people. That's how they get people angry with them. Examples: red T-shirts "Ambassadors" and security personnel. 

Hurt and anger directed at them can be easily avoided if they only use their brains. 

For instance,  just now I was sitting away from the crowd to a quieter area at Vivocity board walk on street level.  I was taking out a piece of pita bread and just about to spread some pepper tuna with a spoon when I heard a security male call from across the pond, "Auntie! Wear mask after you eat Ok?". 

??? He called me what? I looked up at him,  really displeased.  My meal totally ruined,  my mood for some peace completely gone. 

What a stupid, hateful man.  

I said,  "I am not 'auntie'. Don't call me 'auntie '." and turned back to my food. 

Just as we don't appreciate racism, don't insult people based on age-discrimination.

I don't even know him. We are not related in any way.  I have 2 university degrees (what has he got?).  I just want some peace to quietly eat my meal and get a decent Wi-Fi connection from being closer to Sentosa.

Why insult me? I haven't even taken a bite of my pita bread. And he's telling me to wear my mask "after" I have finished. Come on. You cannot let me eat in peace first? 

Of course after eating,  I will put my mask back on. Needless to say. He is so free walking back and forth just like the library "service ambassador" that he can't wrap his brain around that and must say useless things. 

How would you feel if someone tells you off at your meal? 

I wished that when it is his turn to eat,  his food will drop to the floor. 

As a person,  regardless of race or age,  you gotta have common sense. Where is the benefit in getting a stranger angry with you? The anger directed at you is bad. Why incur it? 

The better course of action is to walk away first. Let the person eat.  Give the person some space since it's obvious the person wants to be alone from the crowd.  Then after a suitable time,  walk back. If by then,  the person didn't wear a mask,  then tell him/her nicely. Just say,  "Please wear your mask. ". That's all. No need to call the person any age-discriminatory terms.

It's just simple consideration towards another person. It's also self-preservation from people's anger and hate and evil eye towards you.

There is no difference between the Anti-Chinese/anti-Asian racism in the Netherlands and Europe, and the age discrimination in Singapore. Both are attacks on people. 

I regret that because I feared racist attacks in Amsterdam,  I let the plane fly without me. I should have left.

Very tired of Singapore. No meaning. All fakery and illusions. I am sure the poor woman who lost her son to the army understands this all too well. She made a terrible mistake in inculcating the wrong ideas in her son, resulting in his death. 

Sunday, 13 June 2021

EU Travel Covid Digital Pass

13 June 2021 Sunday 6.28p.m.

I didn't expect the EU (or Europeans) to be so stupid. Travel pass. Now? And they say they are desperate for tourists. If really desperate,  the travel pass shouldn't be implemented, at least not now. Are they even thinking of tourists outside of the EU? 

Now the EU countries have become a question: Are you worth it? 

And it appears countries such as Amsterdam and Malta realize this. Ergo,  they are starting to, or planning to, clean up their image. 

It's now like a beauty pageant. Who is the prettiest and  most worth spending money on?  In the past, such EU countries could get millions of tourists. Not anyhow anymore. 

In travelling to the EU now,  we take a big risk. Besides exposing ourselves to the virus...

The travel pass makes it an even harder decision. We could be stranded in an EU country because we don't have the travel pass. We might be denied entry into supermarkets and cafes and public transport because we don't have "entry pass". And we can't come home because there'll be 2 weeks of quarantine at a $2000 cost and tests which we are trying to avoid in the first place. 

1) Worldwide, or even Europe, vaccination percentages are low, not even 50% of their populations. And there's shortage of vaccines for many countries. Issuing the pass now denies entry to many travellers who haven't been vaccinated. 

2) What about travellers who prefer not to be vaccinated due to various risk concerns regarding the vaccines and allergies? Also,  going to clinics/centers to get tested exposes people to the virus. And until better (non-invasive) testing becomes available,  the travel pass is a barrier to EU travel. 

3) It's surprising that the EU is not democratic after all.  What individual rights? Like the US has said of the EU,  "no vaccine, no service". Segregating people into 3 categories is forcing people to be in one. If not compliant, then one simply cannot enter. So how can the EU say they need tourists?  Even if they mean only EU tourists,  many of the EU countries are still having high infection numbers with low vaccination percentages. 

4) The travel pass is based on the assumption that vaccinations and PCR tests are accurate and reliable.

Come 1 July,  there will be an explosion of infection all over the EU since the message is that vaccination and prior PCR testing or recovery testing equals "safe". People will be complacent since it is assumed that everyone who have entered are "safe".

The EU seems to be ignoring reports of cases of infection or re-infection and deaths even after vaccination and negative test results. 

It's also unknown whether vaccinated people can transmit the virus or are spreading the virus (although if they are transmitting, infection numbers in the population would have gone up with increasing vaccinated percentages). 

The vaccines were released in a hurry and vaccinations done in the absence of more data. Meaning, the world's populations are being used as guinea pigs. 

5) Discriminatory. What happens to tourists who go to the EU before the travel pass is issued? They are stuck without the travel pass and become forced to take tests in order to leave or go to another EU country?

I really want to go to the Netherlands now to see the famous markets and second shops and museums. But this Amsterdam regulation troubles me. Won't the restaurants deny me entry in order to get more customers and lie that they are full because I don't have an entry pass? 

6) I am disappointed to think that Amsterdam may have to wait before I can go,  if at all. I have been checking flights and hotels reviews and it certainly looks very bad. 

Apart from the travel pass problem, Netherlands hotels are expensive, above $100/night. Even for that price, they don't fix the heating and air-con before guests arrive. No breakfasts. Paid breakfasts are poor. The Dutch seem to be stingy people since room price don't include breakfast. They may not clean the room. No bathtub. No swimming pool. 

Despite their stated regulation that masks must be worn at the airport, review shows and mentions that passengers crowd around without wearing masks. 

Then there's the negative reviews of KLM. They do have direct flights from Singapore to Amsterdam. But. Poor meals, flight delays, no refunds. Nobody answers the phone,  uncontactable office that don't exist? I find their online booking platform goes weird when I am checking prices for one-way tickets. 

I look to SIA since they also have direct flights,  although at higher prices. Their booking platform is also suspiciously oddly behaved.  So I asked their messaging box if they still fly to Netherlands or to the Hague. And the reply contains no greeting, just "No". No to which one? SIA always been like that or only now? No wonder they are in financial trouble. 

All these problems just to get to the Netherlands... Plus the Travel pass. It's not that I don't wanna go. It's just more and more impossible.

Even at the risk of exposure to the virus, my brother and I still want to fly because every day, we grow despondent, stuck in Singapore. Meaningless. 

At this time,  there's only Netherlands,  Romania and Albania open freely to Singapore residents. No direct flights to the latter two. 

It's not that I don't wanna go to the Netherlands.

I just read an article about Amsterdam. And I have also checked with a few enough hotels to know hotels don't accept cash, which I thought was strange. 

Amsterdam don't take cash. Supermarkets take only Maestro cards. Not even MasterCard allowed? The writer goes on to warn: be careful of buying 2ndhand bikes from street sellers. The bikes might be stolen or be missing vital parts. And don't buy drugs from street sellers because it's illegal. Cyclists may run through tourists who stray or linger. As the canals go round the buildings, you might get lost without GPS or Google Maps. 

Another writer says don't walk out late at night in Eindhoven in the suburbs or might be mugged. 

However,  Amsterdam/Netherlands is one of the safest countries. Uh-huh. 

I don't even need to go to Amsterdam to feel familiar with it. The mess and the restrictions sound like Singapore but worse. We would just  be stepping from one to the other but pay more.