My first Mozart experience

First assignment – Similar to the world war II bunker, I spent four weeks in this small underground dungeon, shying away from any civilization that may exist outside. Luckily I didn’t come back looking like a zombie.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Having just finished a long marathon of university exams, the only thing that struck my mind was to quickly find a job. Any job would do as long as it doesn’t require me to just sit down in front of the workstation and the only buddy you can talk to was a 386 computer. With no MP3, no CD ROM and the only games that you can play were tetris and pac man that time. If it was not the germs, the claustrophobia will kill me. The year was 1992.

When I first started my career in a local semi-government organization, little did I realize how much fun and sometimes wacky it would be. Having to work in the dark labyrinth of laboratories and handling microscopic organisms that could rot your arm with gangrenous flesh was one thing, but dealing with a bunch of weirdos in a white coat was even more nauseating for me. The rewards however, could be really a mind boggling. The sheer satisfaction was like the after feeling of eating raw wasabi.

My first assignment was the one which actually saved me from being a marauding moonlighter and a deciding factor for me to stick to my gun that this place will be my primary playing ground. Less than a month after I reported for duty, I was asked to go to Seefeld, Austria. A remote place in a foreign country that if not pronounced properly will be mistaken for a country down under. That was what happened to me. I faced several technical glitches with the ticketing department initially and even the appointed travel agent didn’t quite sure where the place was.

Being for the first time abroad and alone could be a very intimidating experience. During that time, Singapore was the only country I’ve visited so far, that if we can consider it as a foreign land. To cut the long story short, I finally arrived at Vienna after a long hauled flight via Dubai. Still excited and intoxicated with so many glasses of orange juice to keep me awoke, I didn’t really know where to start my journey really. Luckily I met this lovely young Austrian gal who was in the same flight with me and from then she was my unofficial tourist guide. But to my utterly surprise, she then told me that it will take another six-long-hours from Vienna to Seefeld by train. Nobody told me that earlier. I thought that was it. If it was not because of my eagerness and my will not to surrender to this odd circumstances I would have asked her to help me finding me a cheap hotel and retire for the day. But I didn’t. I was young and full of spirit.

Since my new friend was heading to Salzburg which was in the same line, we took the train off the Westbahnhof station and headed west. Before embarking the train I bought two sandwiches since my tummy has started to alert me with that familiar tune. The last time I’ve had my meal was a good 6 hours ago in the flight. By then I started to miss ‘nasi lemak‘ and ‘roti canai‘ already. But something really troubling me and keep bugging my mind while hungrily consuming the sandwich. I guess your mind just could not think properly if you tummy was empty. Then it struck me. I just could not simply buy any food and anywhere. Not in this new territory. Oh no…! I felt like I want to vomit there and then. Having to cope up with the language was one thing, and now I got my food crisis to deal with. The word famine became so real!

We passed through the musical city of Salzburg where my unofficial guide disembarked, leaving me to spent the remaining journey wondering what to expect next. By the time the train reached its final destination Innsbruck, it was almost dark. Still I have to hop on another tram for a short commuting to my final destination Seefeld, a small village in the valley of the Tyrolean province. The next four weeks, instant noodle and load of Brahims have saved me from my insanity.

There were lessons to be learned :

  1. Never trust your travel agent! Find as much information as possible beforehand. Ask Uncle Goodle if you have to.
  2. Think first then eat, not the other way around.
  3. Travel alone can be very boring and loneliness kills. Make lot and lot of friends.
  4. If you think you can elude the tight security at the airport, bring anything that is edible.
  5. Seefeld is a nice place for my next honeymoon trip!

Seefeld has two mountain areas along the Alps, very famous for walking during the summer and skiing during the winter. This one is known as Roßhütte. There was a large restaurant half way up with a view of the whole village down the valley. Unprepared to this challenging activity, I borrowed a windbreaker from the host and conquered the peak with my newly bought Alain Delon, of which became the topic over dinner table during the whole course.

Prof. Sitte (the host who was sitting next to me), was really trying hard to make me felling at home. However for the first time traveler, I found it quite a daunting task in trying to explain why i still couldn’t even eat a fish in a soup that was previously taken out from another meat soup which was prepared earlier (the fish was prepared specially for me).

Scientists can be very funny too. The host finally revealed the secret of preparing strawberry icecream using left over liquid nitrogen (the person next to Prof Sitte holding the liquid nitrogen tank was the one who invented this signature icecream). The taste was as good as Haagen Daaz if you ask me.

I got an opportunity to witness a traditional summer festival with colourful procession like this in the middle of the village. The folks here even though hardly conversed in English, they were very friendly. Guten morgen...Guten taag!

Innsbruck is only 17km away from Seefeld. The older pedestrian district of Innsbruck like this one, where Goldenes Dachl (Golden roof) a landmark to this place supposedly located. But I somehow missed the spot and wandering cluelessly in the oblivion, admiring the unfamiliar atmosphere surrounded me.

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