My trip to Denmark was unforgettable in just many, many ways. It is where I shed tears, felt terribly homesick, nearly lost a finger but also saw the best contemporary architecture and lead quite a luxurious ‘design’ lifestyle. oh! not to forget, I was offered drugs in Christiania. Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark is a small and quaint city, with a fabulous old city charm. Famous for its beers (think Carlsberg), minimalist design and former power symbol of the Vikings era.
Nyhavn, Copenhagen’s famous cafe street by the canal. Sadly, winter time does not exude the bustling cafe atmosphere. Nonetheless, the colourful and flat facades are delightful to watch.
It was just like the movies as whole flock of pigeons flew past my head. Birds here are obese. They are the size of chickens in Malaysia.
Rådhusplasden, the square in front of Copenhagen city hall with Tivoli Gardens on the back drop. Unfortunately, the historic amusement park was close as it was winter time.
I was going to quote from travel books, but I figured the best way that I could ever described it is that the place feels almost too perfect.
Some nooks and cranies off Støget, the world’s longest pedestrain road
What I mean is that-they are extremely eco-friendly, trains super-efficient(wish London tube could learn a thing or two), everything is high-tech, people are extremely polite, city is clean and the standard of living is very very high. Danish pay extremely high taxes, as such, the city is well planned, heritage are well preserved and people are generally very well-off with high-quality public amenities. Now I understand why it was rated as one of the top few countries on the Human Development Index (HDI).
Outside Kongens Have, meaning the King’s Gardens
Outdoor skating at Kongens Nytorv
All that amounts to= GREAT designs and architecture everywhere.
The famed ‘Little Mermaid’ of the great story-teller Christian Anderson, and yes, it’s little.
I love seeing vines growing on the old buildings. It breathes a scent of historical past, mysterious and engaging.
Amelianborg Palace or known as Marmorkin
Amelianborg Palace central square with sentry guards that MOVE
I swear- these people, live, breath and speak design. Design is so well integrated into their lives that they understand the artistic language. Not only do they appreciate design, but to them, design are solutions to living problems. From musuems, design centres, shopping malls to the cutleries I used at home- are all designer’s. Yes, a lot of times, designer’s stuff=expensive, but the difference with them, is that they appreciate design intent, and most importantly, those archi bullshit that we crao about during presentation, they realise it here. It always sounds like bull shit to me because it’s too impractical to built them, but here, they make it work and they all look amazing.
Despite their very moody, rainy and extremely cold scadinavian weather, I enjoyed walking few kilometres a days, basking in what I call design heaven. I mean c’mon, when i enter shopping malls, I see furnitures sold AND discounted that are exhibited in Sydney’s Power House Museum; I got to see buildings that I saw in books; I nearly died in their bookshops as they have so much archi books and design literature that are SO hard to get here. Sigh.. too bad i couldn’t carry them back and they were mostly in Danish.
I encountered many misfortuntes in Copenhagen, but it was also where I learned the most. Learning how to cope with living in a country you can’t speak their language. Learning how to stay calm in a dire situation. Learning that there are many types of people in the world. Seeing the contrast of a poor country like Cambodia to a rich developed country like this, and feeling lucky that I am in between. Learning that being rich is not exactly as happy as I think it is. Learning that when everything is so perfect, you don’t know what imperfection is like. What I learned best, is why people born here are more profecient in design and art. Ah.. and now I know how to differentiate this season’s Gucci from the last, branded goods shopping trips with my aunt were simply enlightening.
As Las told me,” In Denmark, if a child tells the parents they want to be an artist, the parents would be so happy. But if a kid told the same thing to an Asian parents…”
“They will commit suicide…” I replied without an eye blink. I know I’m drama-ing, but honestly, most of our parents would flip. I remembered my Asian uncle scolding me: I will be poor selling pictures on roadsides, when I claimed I wanna trod down the designer’s path.
All in all, it’s the experience that counts. A warm smile a freindly gestures goes far. Even far up North, and definitely down South. Every human being can be so different, and yet they can be so similiar. Culture, lifestyle, appearence, language, scenery and even weather makes us all a different person. Travelling helped me open my eyes to the phrase of people from all walks of life. But really, what everyone wants is just genuine love, kindness and happiness in their lives. And all those things mentioned above characterise and mould a person’s lifestyle. You can be rich and you still suffer; you can be poor and still be happy. Nothing defines anything, and nothing is always as what it seems. An open heart, open mind and big smiles goes a long, long, long way, even on the rainy days and painful moments. To see through darkness, and believing that like everything, it passes and light is at the end. This whole travel made me understand myself a bit better, made me grateful for the good people I am often surrounded with, showering me with love, kindness and support. Really, things are taken for granted till you lose it /away from it. Believe me, even a 2 mins familiar voice can be a huge moral support to 2 days of depressing weather and a series of SERIOUSLY unfortunate events and a lot of stupidity on my part. Honestly, I got through those bad times, just by ranting in my head, knowing that my freinds will empathise me when I recap to them-that kept me sane enough to think, plan and move further along the way.
On a rare day that I saw sun: Scandinavian sunset
Shades of deeps set purple paints the scadinavian sky
Post addition:Honestly, my photos do not do justice of the place at all. I hardly took pictures/most pictures turned out shitty, of many more places I visited. One thing that seems to show in the pictures is how harsh the scandinavian weather is, and it affects my photography mood. Plus, my camera lense keeps smoking up due to condensation. I don’t have a lense protector, which means that taking pictures in the rain was dreadful.
There are a few pictures that my photos failed to mention:
Slotsholmen. Christianborg Palace under construction
Slotsholmen: an island seperated by the city sentre by a moatlike canal and is the site of Christianborg Palace, Home to Denmark’s parliament, Teatermuseet(Theatre Museum) and the Royal Reception Chambers. I visited the ruins of Absalon’s Fotress, the underground excavation of what’s left from the previously burned down castle in the 1167 as well as Copenhagen’s slot.
Christianshavn: A place where photography was prohibited but fascinatingly alternative community to the rest of Copenhagen. It’s known as a ‘Freetown’ where hippies and groupies live in. Pusher Street used to be famous for drugs with former army barracks and more run down housing circling the area. There were grafittis painted everywhere-walls, buildings colourfully transporting me to the 80s hippie culture. People were dressed gruffy and very hip-hop. Despite the government crackdown, it is known to all that drugs were still sold here and I was offered some as well. It was a cold day when I visited the place, many gathered around tanks of fire smoking cigars and manacing dogs roaming freely. A far cry from the sophistication of most parts of Copenhagen city.
Lousiana Modern Art Gallery: The landscape and building worked together beautifully to complement the experience of appreciating art
Lousiana: Sculpture becomes part of the landscape
Other musuems and galleries: Statens Musuem for Kunst(Denmakr’s national gallery), Nationalmuseet(The National Museum), the Danish design Centre, The Jewish Musuem, Lousiana Museum of Modern Art (My fav)-Loads of Picassos and Giocomettis and Ny Carlsberg Glptotek-a vast collection of Gaugin’s paintings and Rodin’s sculptures.
Denmark is a very expensive country to visit and live in. Proper planning have to be made to save cost and pray for the weather’s cooperation if you’re visiting during the winter months. I will always remember that, planning and execution, are never as expected but prior planning is always a must for the latter to happen.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
and sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
and looked down one as far as I could
to where it bent in the undergrowth
Then took the other, as just as fair,
and having perhaps the better claim
because it was grassy and wanted wear;
though as for that, the passing there
had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
in leaves no feet had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less travelled by,
and that has made all the difference
-First Verse by Robert Frost in The Road Not taken
This poem sums up my first travel to Europe and the guts of doing it alone. Would I ever do it again? I don’t know, what I know was that, it ain’t easy as it seems but “I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference”.