Travelog with Jem Travel. Writing. Photography. Fri, 02 Sep 2016 19:42:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 By the canal outside Anne Frank’s house I sat and wept Mon, 29 Aug 2016 20:33:03 +0000

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Anne Frank House

For the love of writing, my trip to Amsterdam would have been incomplete without a visit to Anne Frank House.

At the beginning of the tour I expected to read her diaries plastered on the walls but there were only captioned photos and mementos. I couldn’t find an emotional response to what I was seeing and reading. I wanted to rebuke myself for my lack of empathy. I had never seen the film nor read The Diary of Anne Frank but I thought I knew her story.

Born in Frankfurt-am-Mein, Anne was the second daughter of Otto and Edith Frank. The other daughter, Margot was 4 years older.

When Hitler started arresting the Jews, Otto moved his family to Amsterdam and set up a jam factory.

Soon the Nazi invaded Amsterdam and to keep his business, Otto transferred the ownership to one of his staff, Miep. As Hitler’s forces relentlessly searched for every Jew, Otto declared to Miep that he had decided to hide with his family in the factory house.

Later on, four more people joined the Franks.

As the story unfolded, my heart started to break especially when I got to the Secret Annex. Anne’s diaries evoked unspeakable sadness. They couldn’t glimpse even a single ray of light. For more than two years they lived like they didn’t exist.

It was like watching a suspense thriller. The plot was building up and I couldn’t wait to get to the end of the story and read about the happy ending.

However, it took a twist and the 8 prisoners were betrayed. Though wretched and miserable as it may have sounded, the Secret Annex was a haven compared to the concentration camp.

No more diary entrees for Anne but her story continued through the recollection of her friend. Finally, I could see the end of the story.

In a short video clip towards the end of the tour, Otto Frank talked about his discovery of Anne’s diary and her dream to be a famous publisher.

I thought I knew the story of Anne Frank but my visit to her house and The Secret Annex revealed I didn’t. Anne Frank was just like any other girls who wanted to love and laugh, to live in a peaceful community where she could exercise her rights. She had great aspirations and determination.

Today, her book The Diary of A Young Girl has been translated in 70 languages and was included in the World Heritage Memory of the World Register.

By the canal outside Anne Frank’s House I sat and wept when I realised she didn’t live to see her dream fulfilled.

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The dangerous climb and a breathtaking view Mon, 22 Aug 2016 22:48:58 +0000

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I was climbing the steps that would have led me to a shrine on top of a hill in this town. I didn’t know what I was going to see. I was just curious why there was a shrine there.

After a hundred meters or so, the steps ended and I had to cling onto a rope to carry on climbing. Loose gravels made it precariously impossible for me to go further up.

The climb was getting steeper and the rope had also been discontinued. My pace was slow but as the oxygen got thinner and my breathing became more frequent, my throat started to dry up. Only then I realised how stupid I was to have left the my water bottle behind.

The scorching heat made things worse. I glinted in the sun to check how much further I had to go uphill. I asked myself whether to press on or to give up.

My body’s cry for water became my turning point. Justifying my failure to get to the top, I consoled myself by saying, “It’s just a shrine anyway!”

Turning my back to the shrine,I  was surprised how beautiful the view was. Blue water and limestone rocks appeared before me. A gentle breeze blew my exhaustion away and I forgot how thirsty I was. Luckily, I had my camera with me. It was among the first generation of the Sony digital cameras with 3.2 megapixel and AA batteries. (That explains why the photo doesn’t give justice to the real beauty of the place.)

Reaching the foot of the hill, I asked my friends if they knew anything about the shrine on top of the hill. They said that there was a footprint of Gautama Buddha there.

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