Note: I must say that this story is written because I feel guilty that I have written many things about Scotland which seem more like complains, especially about the weather. Weather is not that bad, if we know how to handle it (which puts me in the category of ‘virgin’ since I have no clue. But I’m learning, and I’m still alive, which is the most important thing). Scotland has got so many other good things and I just realized I haven’t written any of those, so I’ll take my chance now.
When my family found out I was going to move to Scotland, most of them were freaked out. My auntie, despite of being married to a German and calls Germany as her second home, thinks that Scotland is far, far away. She told me, “You only need to walk to North Pole! Aduh, Anita, can’t you choose some other country which is closer to Indonesia?”. This is the same auntie who was disappointed when I canceled my plan to get my post-grad degree in Germany and chose Australia instead. Only after telling people that we only need to hop on a plane from Amsterdam for 1 hour to get to Aberdeen, they (hopefully) realize that Scotland isn’t that far, far away. Or the same amount of time spent if you fly from London. So to think about it, London-Aberdeen or Amsterdam-Aberdeen is like Jakarta-Surabaya. Not too bad, isn’t it?
Second thing to notice in Scotland is that the country is so beautiful. It’s somewhat like New Zealand: very green with clear blue sky, mountains, hills, and waterfalls everywhere. Its tranquility and fresh air always makes me want to trap some of it into the jar and bring it back to Jakarta. The vegetation gives an eerie feeling, it’s easy to imagine hobbits and elves popping out of the bushes to say hello to you. Think about The Lord of The Rings combine with Harry Potter movies. There’s no better way to enjoy Scotland by driving around the country. Last year we drove to Portree, Skye, and the landscape is so breathtaking I was behaving like a crazy tourist, frantically taking photographs every minute. The water is really clear and clean, we could drink right from the source, but it’s freezing cold so we must be brave to dip our fingers into the pond.
If NZ is full of sheep, Scotland is full of castles. I couldn’t get enough of them. Every time I saw one I immediately want to see it close up. I love to imagine how those people lived their lives hundred of years ago, when there was no electricity and gas, when Scotland and England were sworn enemies, when ladies had to wear lots of layers, tight corset and high hair. Some castles have life-size mannequins which pose like whatever people did that time, so we enter the room which is full of ‘people’ busy cooking, stirring, chopping, yelling at naughty butler, etc. Unfortunately most of the inside rooms cannot be photographs because the items are hundred of years old and are very sensitive to camera lights. My favorite is Edinburgh castle, the most famous castle in Scotland. I’ve been there three times and I’m never bored to see the magnificent building over and over again. One thing I haven’t done yet, is to take one of the ghost tours in Edinburgh. Call me childish, but I think it’d be cool to walk around in the darkness (the tour starts as early as 10.00 PM), listening to the tales, myths, legends, and mysteries about many horrific tortures, murders and supernatural happenings on the Old Town of Edinburgh. Some tours are guided by (men posing as, or who knows, probably real) ghosts. I know it’s silly and usually around 4.00 PM you could spot people dressing up like ghost, pirates, troubadours, kings, vampires, mummy, you name it, getting ready for the late night tours. But tourists enjoy it and pay a lot of money to be scared! I wonder why Indonesia doesn’t have this ghost tour type, I believe Java has more ghost compares to the whole UK!
Another thing I notice here is that Scottish are more open and friendly. I could feel the pressure of being an Asian in Sydney, there had been several discrimination and racist remarks when I lived there (especially during East Timor separation from Indonesia and 9/11 tragedy), from being asked to open up our suitcases by a custom officer in a nice manner, youngsters pretended they didn’t understand when we asked direction to The Basement, the jazz club, impatient cashier in a nightclub who banged the table because I took more than 30 seconds to get the money out of my wallet, until a fellow schoolmate being physically harassed because she was wearing a hijab. Here I’m practically treated just the same. No one stares because I’m different (maybe they stare because I’m pretty haha!). If there’s any difference, it was only when queuing for immigration at Aberdeen airport. I’m usually the only person who’s not EU citizen, so I’d be the last to be served.
Food is not that bad either, particularly seafood. Two weeks ago there was a food fair in Aberdeen and there’s a stall selling king prawn for £2.50/5pcs, which is about Rp 50,000. Not too bad considering a bottle of water costs £1.00. The prawn’s so delicious, I went back for the second cup (that means I scoffed 10 king prawns down myself in one afternoon, talk about calories and cholesterol level!). Fraserburgh and Peterhead are the two biggest fish ports in Europe, so Scotland is always supplied with fresh seafood. It’s easy to go to any restaurant and order seafood, particularly fish. Of course, the way they cook seafood here is not like in Indonesia which is full of spices. But just like the king prawns I’ve had, the simple way of cooking just enhances the freshness and the true taste of its own fish. Yumm!
Ok, this is me being cheeky, but I think Scottish men are men enough to wear skirt, or they call it kilt. With nothing underneath. Isn’t it interesting? I remember the first time I went to Highland Gathering in Jakarta, and since our friends are British, no one wore this traditional Scottish outfit. So we stopped several (good looking) guys and asked whether the rumour is true, that Scottish men don’t wear anything under their kilts. At the end we got the privilege peeking from the young bagpipe band members. But then the next years I’ve got several Scottish friends (including Stuart) wearing kilts at the gathering, and I’m very sure that they had nothing underneath. When asked why they don’t wear underpants, everybody just says it’s a tradition (maybe someone can tell me?). So next time you see a Scotsman wearing kilt, you know exactly what he wears, or doesn’t wear.
There you go. I hope this could give some brighter picture about Scotland. Perhaps you think about visiting us here?