Unhappiest Place On Earth

When Disneyland claimed to be the Happiest place on earth, i guess Nazi concentration camp can be titled as vice-versa. If you know Dementor (one of Harry Potter’s creature), the spirit who can take away all the happiness away, it feels like a troop of Dementor is already standing in very front of parking area and sucking all my happiness away.

The gloomy weather on that day, added the sadness. I cant even smile at all. I guess even the joker will be left silent when they enter this place that has been turned to holocaust museum.

I am sure everyone knows about the despicable history of Hitler and the Nazi party that he put up. My first thought when i reached this enormous camp is, How can someone convince almost a whole European to kill a tribe that did no wrong? That one person’s hatred can cause so much of terrifying nightmare..

Nazi Concentration camp has three places, Auschwitz I, II and III, that located not far from each other. This camp is enormously huge that it can be a town of its own.

Auschwitz I  (The Main Camp)

Previously was a Polish prison that turned up to be the first and oldest camp in 1940. It was then expanded according to the needs of the camp. Below is the picture of the front lawn, before we entered the camp.

Before we enter this camp, there are quite a tight security check that for our bags, and big backpacks are not allowed to be in. They have a place for you to store your things at the main entrance. I will suggest you to bring smaller bags, since i heard this place always crowded with tourist from all over the world, so it will make you wait a little longer as well to store your things.

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The main gate with ‘Arbeit Macht Freit’ signage, that means ‘Work will set you Free’. What the Jews know, they were sent here to ‘work’. They did not know that they are entering a man-made Hell.

An eerie feeling creeped in when i entered the barrack complex. And the hugeness of this place, make it doesnt look crowded anymore like i saw in the entrance. They have so many barracks here for the inmates, the security barracks, the store rooms, Dr Mengale ‘research rooms’, the gas chambers and the crematories.

Hitler and Dr Mengele already briefed their team to kill those who were unfit for work like the elderly, the sick, women and children to the gas chamber. And the men, twins and others were for work and for Dr Mengele crazy experiments.

We can explore most of the barracks that now turned into photography exhibitions and other exhibition such as the Nazi’s documents and things that were brought by the Jews when they came to the camp. But there are some areas that we cant capture, for example, the place where they store all the Jewish hair that was meant to be sold to make sweaters or blanket.

When i was observing and thinking how cruel the German was in that ‘hair exhibition’, my group was just taking a look and gone just like that, and suddenly i found myself alone in that exhibition. I was quite panicked, since i dont wanna be left alone in that barrack, and ran to find them. And for a while, i was lost in the middle of the barrack complex. Luckily i saw my brother from a far who was busy taking picture on the other alley, and got back together with my tour group. ~Fiuhh~

I can imagine how scared and confused for them who tried to escape from this hell. Even now at the daylight, it is difficult to find the way out. Every alley looks similar with all the big trees planted beside the barracks.

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The three pictures above was the gas that was used to kill the Jews in the gas chamber, The Gas Chamber, and the Crematories.

The Jews were told to put off their clothes and get some shower, they did not know that it will be the last ‘shower’ in their life. Instead of water that supposed to come out, it was the poisonous gas of Zyklon B (that was used as fertilizer and insect killers).

One of the SS (Nazi guards) said that he can heard loud screaming from the gas chamber when the gas was released. They were fighting to live as well. But too bad, no one survived the deadly chemical that made them suffocated. After they died, the guards will bald them, and cremate them immediately. About 1,1 million of Jews were died in this camp.

Auschwitz II – Birkenau 

About 3 km from Auschwitz, there were one Polish village. Since Auschwitz I cannot take more prisoners, the Germans expelled the villagers and demolished their houses to build another concentration camp that is bigger than Auschwitz I. The largest installation of mass murder that was built in 1941.

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Above picture is the mass toilet that was used during time. Our guide said that actually this was the safest place back then. Since the place was so filthy, the Germans seldom went in to check how they were doing. Normally the Jews will exchange informations here, and the one who was assigned here was considered lucky because they can keep themselves warm instead of working outside.

Some of them tried to escape to the forrest behind (as you can see from below picture), but no one know if they managed to ran away.

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This camp is about 1.5 hours of bus trip from Krakow City, Poland. I was on a tour from Jakarta, Indonesia. I researched that you can take train to Auschwitz as well, but you have to take another public transport, since Auschwitz train station is located 2 km away from the camp. I saw a bus station in front of the parking lot when we about to reach the camp, so probably taking a public bus would be a better choice.

If you decided to go on your own, there’s shuttle bus to go from Auschwitz I to Birkenau, but public buses only available outside Auschwitz I, so do take note the timing.

The entrance to this museum is free, but if you need guided tour, you can see this link for more informations. There are many day tour to this place as well when you reached Krakow City, if you dont want the hassle.

They do sell some food in Auschwitz I, so do not worry if you get a little hungry after hours of visiting. But do take note that they only receive ZL (Polish Zloty). So make sure you changed your currency before going to Poland. Else it will be difficult for you to buy things and use the toilet.

And for those of you who love to read, they are one bookstore outside Auschwitz II – Birkenau that sells everything about the camp. And it is available in many translations. I think i can spend an hour to just browse through the bookstore. Finally i decided to bring home this book, and finished this in 2 days time. Such a moving story.

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 ~ The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing ~ Edmund Burke

All pictures (mostly unedited) and video are taken by Sony RX1oo iii.

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Hello, Budapest !

*I still have a lot stories from Flores, guess a break from it is necessary. Haha*

Budapest has been in my bucket list since 2010. Thanks to National Geographic. I cant remember what article that i read, i only remember seeing beautiful pictures of glowing Chain Bridge that span from Buda to Pest at night. It really enchants the younger me. Feels like majestic, pretty yet mysterious. I really wish to visit Budapest until i changed my previous office desktop and my old samsung phone display picture to the beautiful view of Budapest from above. I guess thats what ‘faith’ is, believing that you’ll go somewhere someday, and envision it!

And so, by God’s grace, me and my family went to East Europe last August and spent a day in this jewel of the east.

~ Heroes Square

One of prominent square of Hungary to commemorate the 1000 year old history of Magyars (the ethnic of Hungarian people) and a place where people pay tribute to the passing soldiers and national leaders. I love the ArchAngel Gabriel on the middle top, which symbolises the Roman Catholic Region. It’s sandwiched between the Museum of Fine Arts and the Art Gallery of its left and right.

When i visited this place, they have this cute beer-truck along the square that’s ready to quench your thirst. I found it amusing and brilliant since i never see anything like this before. haha..

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~ Matthias Church

This church was first found by Saint Stephen, the king of Hungary in 1015, after  many attacks and terrors, the church that was build based on Baroque style now turned into a Gothic style, and was named after their King Matthias on the 19th century.

Entrance fee is 1200FT (Hungarian Forint) = EUR 4 = SGD 6 = Rp 60,000

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~ Fisherman’s Bastion 

This castle on the hill is must visit when you are in Budapest. The locastion just side by side with Matthias Church. And when you go up to the so called ‘castle’, you can see the beautiful panoramic view of Budapest. This bastion is built during 1890s, and somehow, some angle of the castle looks like those disney castle on the fairytales. Or is it just me who dreams too much? Haha..

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~ Danube River Boat Tour

To be honest, i dont really like cruising. But now, i know why i dont like it. It’s the ship! haha. Guess the sheltered ships where you can only sit down and bend your neck on one side is not fun at all, like in Netherland for example, or the too big boat like those is Istanbul. I love my cruising experience with the small, half-sheltered ship like i had in Budapest. It made the cruising experience different, you can really feel the breeze, and make your photo session nicer. hahaha..

Uber love the view of Parliement House (with the red dome) and the Royal Place buidling (the green dome) from the boat. It looks so surreal, it looks like a nice paper town from down there. haha. Would love to comeback and see the night-view of Budapest. Surely it will be more enchanting than the day-view. ❤

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** All pictures taken with SONY RXIII by Me.

Postcards from Hallstatt-Austria

If you have been following National Geographic Travel and Beautiful Destinations on your Instagram, i am pretty sure you noticed that they posted a lot of Hallstatt pictures every now and then. My favourite is still the one that they took in winter-time. I love how the mountains and all the rooftop of the houses are all covered by the snow.

I still remember the days, years ago, when i thought ‘it is impossible’ to visit Hallstatt. Since Austria itself is very far away from home, and heard that Central-Eastern Europe was not so safe back then. Furthermore, Hallstatt is a small village that’s located far from the big cities and not easily reached.

But Hey, nothing is impossible! By the grace of God, Finally i can see and visit this unbelievably beautiful village with my own eyes, not through the social media or magazines anymore. *Yeayy.. hands in the air*

I love the super fresh air, the cold breeze (even-though it was already summer), the pastel colour of the houses, the clear lake water that really invites you to jump and swim and the majestic towering mountain that surrounds this serene village.

I just love every corner of this salt-mine village, and the 4-5 hours bus ride from Vienna is super worth-it. Enjoy the picturesque Hallstatt. ❤ ❤

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All pictures are taken by Sony RX100 III – by me

24 hrs in Vienna-Austria : For Sightseeing

Vienna, the capital and the largest city of Austria has many beautiful places that will bring your imagination back to 1700s. A time whereby most of the cities in Europe were still ruled by Kings and Queens.

As for me, to explore a town, you may need at least 3 days to at least see the touristy place and visit the hipster cafe around the city. But too bad, some people dont have the luxury to do that, Like for those person who’s on business trip or on a transit, or some people like me, whose parents prefer to go on a tour rather than explore and get lost. haha.

1. Kunsthistorisches Museum ( Museum of Art History)

Welcome to the largest ART Museum in the country! This mega-museum was opened around 1891 by King of Hungary – Franz Joseph I, when Austria was still Austro-Hungarian Empire. This museum holds mostly paintings and sculptures. I do not know much about arts, but this museum building is just sooo pretty, more over with the octagon dome on the top!

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2. St Stephen’s Cathedral & Old Town

Seems like most cities in central/eastern Europe has their own must visit scenic old town. A place whereby most good eats are, a great shopping place and of course a place for you to see and visit some historical sites.

St Stephen’s Cathedral is one of the must see when you’re in old town. It’s the mother church of Roman Catholic in Vienna and one of Vienna’s landmark.

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3. Schonbrunn Palace

Where maybe some of us have some villa in Puncak or Bali, a queen named Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria and Francis I, Duke of Lorraine owned this extravagant palace for their summer residence. Surely this palace is the biggest residence that i have ever seen in my life. They have so many beautiful gardens for their 16 children to play in. Yes, Maria Theresa had 16 children, 10 of them were girls, and 1 of the 10 was the famous Marie Antoinette (Queen of France).

What i can say is, some European history are heavily influenced with Austrian history, since the Archduchess’ children were married to other European Dukes. The palace is one of Europe’s most impressive Baroque style, which now is a part of UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage due to historic importance. They Palace was wonderfully made inside out, too bad no photography allowed. So, just enjoy the outside few!

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4. Johann Strauss II Monument at Stadtpark 

Austria is also well-known for the birthplace for many great composers / musicians. Even until now, many people still go to Austria to learn musics. And for the classic enthusiast, i am sure you all know who Johann Strauss is. Because even me, the music noobs know the famous ‘Voices of Spring’ by the master himself.

This gold monument were built by Edmund Hellmer and unveiled to the public on 26th June 1921. For you who love to listen to classics, there are daily concerts that you can attend to. They have many ticket sellers around this area, and they do have promotions for foreigners too!

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All picture are unedited – taken by SONY RX100 III

Eyegasm at Mount Titlis

To be honest with you, i think Switzerland is the most beautiful country amongst the other Europe countries that i visited. The place is so calm and serene, and where ever you laid your eyes on, all the sceneries are just pretty.

We spent half of our day at Mount Titlis, Engelberg, one of the top mountain destination that has eternal snow in Swiss Alps area, other than Matterhorn and Jungfrau.

It took about 2 hrs bus ride from our hotel in Zurich direct to Titlis foothills.
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To reach the peak of mount Titlis, we need to ride 3 kinds of cable-cars.

The first one is the normal cable-cars, where only 4-6 person can sit in.

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and i took these 2 super pretty pictures in this cable car! It’s crazily beautiful isnt it??? No edit, No Filter, No colour adjustment, Nothing..! the mother earth just naturally beautiful.. just like those pictures in the postcard!

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The second cable-cars is bigger in size, rectangle shape, and can fit about 70 people i guess? haha.
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and the third one is a round shape rotatable cable car. Yes, rotatable, so, it will keep rotating in slow motion until we reach the peak of Titlis mountain. They said, it’s their new innovation, so we can see all angles of the mountain.
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and Finally, after maybe 1,5 hrs of 3 cable-car rides (plus q-ing time), we reached Mount Titlis!

But before we start our venture, we dropped by to their food-court to eat some lunch

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and their food are super freaking expensive. haha.. the cost of 1 meal of pork chop is about 16 CHF, and their mineral water cost about 5CHF.. crazyy!! but well, since it’s the only food-court up there, we dont really have any choice, do we? haha. But luckily, the food is goodd.. haha..

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And after lunch, it’s venture time! i was super duper excited to see and to touch/play with the snow. Well, it was not my first time playing with the snow. but the cool breeze, the warm sun-rays, and the fresh air up there make the great feeling! haha.. and you know what.. Bromo mountain is much cooler than Titlis mountain. hahaha. I guess it’s because we went up to Bromo at 3am, and went to Titlis at noon time, when the sun already shows up so mightily. haha.. Actually me and my brother wanted to ride the snowtube and the ice flyer, like the below pictures at the entrance.. But again, too bad.. the time was not on our side.. so, we just took loads of pictures, enjoy! ❤

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That guy was just about to skii from 2000 mtrs of altitude and 12 km down the mountain.. cant imagine how scary and excited it is. 12 km of skiing is super longgg for me.. hahahahha.. well ya.. i cant skii at all.. but i want to learn how to skii next time.. yeapp.. hopefully i can do this before i turn 30! haha
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** All Pictures are unedited, taken by Sony Nex C-3 **

 

A Wee Bit of Brussels

The major ‘cons’ of joining a tour group is you cant explore a city/country as much as you want, but the ‘pro’ is you can drop by to many countries and see a wee bit of it.

Take my last trip for example. i can have my breakfast in Amsterdam, Lunch in Brussels, and Dinner in Paris. sounds awesome, isnt it? But again you need to pay that ‘awesomeness’ with a long hour of bus ride. haha..

From Amsterdam to Paris, it took us about 7 hrs of bus ride in total, To make our back and butt a little less painful, we dropped by in Brussels for lunch and a little bit of city tour.

Brussels is the capital and the largest city of Belgium. I quite like this city, eventhough i just visited it for a few hrs only. haha. Most of the buildings is quite similar with Amsterdam, those 3-4 stories tall, but less colorful, more to classic white colours, i think? haha

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**took this picture in front of the chinese restaurant that we went to, guess we were in LGBT district? hmmpp**

And since Brussels is a home for international politics, there are so many buildings that looks like this.

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As we only have few hours in Brussels, we just dropped by to have some lunch in one horrible chinese restaurant.*i think its the least tasty and worst service restaurant in our whole trip* haha..  And after that, we walked around the city a bit and head our way to see the infamous..

Manneken Pis (Little Pee Man)

A legendary statue in the corner of L’etuve road (Rue De L’etuve). **voto** I was really thinking that the statue will be much bigger than this. haha.. The size of this statue is only about 60-70cm, and made in bronze. My tour guide said, normally the locals will put some outfit on this pee-ing little man, like national clothes on national day, santa claus clothes on christmas, etc.

Since there’s no occasion when we came there, so its just a bare tiny statue.

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It may not look majestic to some of us. but the locals kind of treasure it so much, maybe because all the historical stories behind it. There are 2 famous stories behind this pee-ing boy.

One story tells about a tourist father who lost his son, he asked the villagers to help to find his boy, and then they found the boy was pee-ing in that little corner. so the tourist father was so glad that they found him, and give this statue fountain as a gift to the village.

Another story is, during some wars, this boy was pee-ing to a bomb that was about to explode. and fortunately the bomb never exploded. so it’s kind of remembrance to little brave boy. Dont know which story story is true.. but what we know now is, its a must see statue when you visit Brussels. haha.

Belgian Chocolate

I think there are so many delicious European chocolate. and many of it as well, already entered Asia’s market since i dont know when. But they said Belgian chocolate is different because They have been the biggest chocolate producers in the world. some of the finest chocolate like Godiva comes from Belgium too. Beside Manneken Pis statue, there’s one chocolate shop that’s always crowded with tourist. They claimed to handmade their own chocolates. so, we bought some home and give it to our relatives and friends, and all of them said it is sooo nicee..

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*photo-shoot attempt. hahaha*

Belgian Waffle 

Something that we could not miss! In Belgium, the treat it’s like the Waffles itself. Almost every corner of Mannaken Pis area selling Belgian Waffle & their Belgian chocolate..

it’s so hard to decide which one to go to. Me and my brother decided to go to 1 shop that is not to far from the Manneken Pis statue, a few people Q-ed for it, and we were like, ‘okay.. if there’s a Q, it might better than the others’. haha.. *Monkey See, Monkey Do situation* haha..

Initially we only bought 1 waffle topped with bananas and Belgian chocolate, but we find the chocolate to overpowering and cant stand the sweetness. so we decided to buy the plain waffles with sugar. and it tastes much better..! haha.. The waffle itself is already tasty, so i think much topping will ruin the waffle taste..

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** she really enjoy posing at my brother’s camera.. i guess that what makes her put soooo much chocolate sauce until it overflows.. hahaha**

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** 1 EUR for the plain one.. my Banana Choco Waffle is about 4 EUR**SONY DSC

Grand Place 

It’s the central square of Brussels, and it’s one of UNESCO World Heritage site. A must visit place for travellers! In previous time, they used this town-hall as a trading place, where they can buy and sell food and other things. even until today, they still use this place for restaurants and a place to hang out for the young and old. Another Unique Selling Point of this place, is their architecture. They have 3 different eras of architecture in 1 place (The Gothic, the Baroque and Louis XIV)

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SONY DSCAll pictures are taken with Sony Nex C-3, with no edit.