Mein Freund in Bingen (Part 1)

The language of friendship is not words but meanings. – Henry David Thoreau

I will forever look back to this day on how I decided to take my 14kg backpack to Mainz.  It’s a journey I’ll always remember about one of my most eccentric friend, Farah.

The trip started while I was lounging on Nad’s couch in Tooting; I received a surprised message from Farah saying that she was able to spare time for us to come over. It was really a no brain-er visit this one because UK and Germany isn’t that far and while we’re at it, we decided to do the entire Benelux (short for Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg) before we head to Frankfurt.

I remember we rushed from Centraal Station in Amsterdam to catch the train to Frankfurt. We were always rushing when it came to trains. With heavy bags and all, I think we were lucky to get pretty good seats. Some of which were upgraded along the way. So on the way to Frankfurt, I managed to keep in touch with Farah and she had instructed me to get a connecting train to Mainz where she’ll be meeting us that night.

With a discman and Valentino Rossi’s autobiography book to keep me company .. I’m reminded that there was a reason why I wanted, no..needed to be in Germany.

Prior to my Europe trip, Farah and I had been keeping in touch via emails. I had such fond memories of us writing long emails to each other, talking about anything and everything surrounding us. And in that moment I knew that I had to see her. Had to talk to her. For what reason, I’m not so sure.

As far as I know, Farah is one of the most brightest person I’ve ever encountered. So bright, she’d give you a run for your money when you speak about philosophies and theories. I call her a genius. She of course will deny till she dies. But that’s who she really is, one who need not have to study, do homework and still manage to pull off a pretty amazing result. With a glance through, she could tell you the gist of it. For many years, I admire her talent. While she has her own temper to tame, I think it’s what makes her all the more interesting. She’s kooky yet funny. Sarcastic as hell but also down to earth. There are a lot of things about her that’s amazing which she’s not really aware off.

Anyway, so as we got off from Frankfurt and heading to Mainz, we met Farah and she then led us to another station, one where we would be heading to her home – Bingen. She said it’s a very small place. A very small place I find very charming indeed. However, that realisation only occur the morning after.

To think I was thousands of miles away from home, we were approached by other Malaysians in the train that night. Who would’ve thought? Then an Indonesian came to us and had a chat, sharing with us his 20+ years of staying in Germany and how he miss being back home. I thought that was a nice touch to my first visit here. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to strike up conversations with other people. People we might not even see tomorrow but is more than happy to fill you in for present.

It’s the one thing I love about being in Europe. Just the feeling that you’re able to make someone’s day by greeting them. As much as I would wish the same thing could happen in Malaysia, it’s not in our culture (I guess) to do it. At least not in the metropolitan areas. Everyone’s so hung up about their own world, there’s no time for other things.

The best part about it all is that, Farah said “In my years of living here, I’ve not met other Malaysians in the train!”.

When we got off the final station, we met with one of her housemate who happened to be dropping someone off. So hey, we got a free ride back! The best part was, her housemate was driving my first car – the VW GTi MK2. It’s a legendary car that one and boy, was I happy to jump in and be in the car with the sunroof opened!

Just recalling it right now is already making me smile. Oh how I miss Bingen.

The thing about Bingen is that, you could sleep on the road and you don’t have to worry about getting hit. It’s so quiet yet wonderful at the same time. We all bunked in Farah’s room which is the attic. This was when she shared with me her little escapade – out of the window, seating on the rooftop and be captivated by the view in front of your eyes. The best part is, you could even lay your head and look at the sky. No one will noticed.

It’s these moments, this kind of hide outs I’ve always loved doing since I was a kid. I love having a tree house, love having a secret garden no one knows..I just love having a place where I can call my own. And that was her space, her little corner of the world where no one else can take it away.

This was also the time when I discovered how fast internet could have been! Although Zoel had told me many times before when he lived in Stuttgart, I never actually knew how fast he had meant. The noob that I am. There’s a Malay word for it, “Jakun”.

Once we’ve settled down, refreshed ourselves.. the host slowly pulled out a box in front of me. I wasn’t sure what it was until she reminded me of a certain purchase I made a month before through her. Slowly, I unwrapped the bubble wrap..making sure I didn’t ruin it, lo and was the XJ200 scale model I’ve been hunting for someone’s birthday. Why did I put so much effort to look for this? It’s a rare piece and now that I have it in my hands, I was beyond happy. I knew I owed Farah big time for troubling her. And till this day, I couldn’t thank her enough.

See, that’s who Farah is. When you “get” her, she’s the kind of friend who would almost do anything for you without so much hesitation. But if you don’t, hey it’s your loss really.

Oh! And she even bought a bag of gummies knowing full well I had mad craving for it while I was in London. She actually managed to sourced out for Halal gummies somewhere in town and.. wouldn’t you know it..I happily ate them away 🙂 It’s a simple gesture but it meant so much to me.

Just thinking about it all over again making me miss her quite a bit too. What with the kind of lives we’re living today; she’s still there in Bingen where I believe is where she belongs and me in KL. So we have small window of opportunity to catch up but somehow we’ll make sure to drop a word or two saying “hey things are good. It’s heading somewhere bla bla bla”.

Maybe I’ll drop her an email after this. Just because 😉

So the next morning, she took us out for a walk. As usual, it’s a must to go to the supermarket and get what we need. If you want to stock up food for travelling, always head for the grocery shop. Especially mineral water. You’ll save heaps I tell ya!

I remember being greeted by the cashier in the morning. How could one survive in Deutchland without speaking German? Eh, pretty alright I might say. Farah taught me a few words in German and I used ’em all the time. I had a lot of positive feedbacks too.

One time when I was in Farah’s room sorting out stuff, I accidentally cursed in German. Instead of asking what happened, she said “WHOA! Did you just cursed in German? Cool!”.

Yeah, that’s my friend alright. She was the one who introduced me to the word – Idiosyncrasy. Apparently, that’s how she describes my stories.

After our trip to the supermarket, we head off by foot to the ferry on Rhein River.

Rhine is the 12th longest river in Europe

Our next destination? Rüdesheim am Rhein.

We didn’t know what the itinerary was since we left it in Farah’s hands to bring us around. I didn’t do much read up about this place to begin with so when I came, I had no expectations. So when we got on the ferry, she told us a little bit about this UNESCO World Heritage Site winemaking town. This place has a lot of events going on through out the year. One that’s most known for is the Wine Festival which happens third weekend of August every year.

We took the cable car up to the top of the hill where we can witness the picturesque view of Rheingau landscape. There’s even a hiking trail from the bottom of the hill and one can also pluck the grapes when the season comes. Too bad when we were there, there were no fruits.

Some of the views I remember from many years ago


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