6/7. The City of the Kaiser Chiefs. The architecture and history is often overshadowed by the Nazis and the East/West Cold war era...

September 25th, 2015, 2am

After catching an ICE train from Praha to Berlin hbf, Jason, Lien and I parted ways. Picking me up from the train station was my cousin Mi (daughter to my dad’s older sister) who then took me back to her place to dump my things. Along the way we conversed in my broken somewhat usable Vietnamese and I discovered a few things about my family and Germany. That night we simply went out for dinner and then came back to retire.

The next morning I met Mi’s husband and both of them took me out to the East side of Berlin to dine on Pho. It was a pleasant cultural exchange where I had learnt that for years I had mixed up some of my vietnamese words with my forgiving mother never correcting me.

After brunch we parted ways and I made my way to the Brandenburger Tor. The free Sandeman walking tour wasn’t due to start up again for another 2 hours so I went for a gander around. Here I was approached by a lady pretending (later validated by my tour guide) to be deaf. She handed me a clipboard where in english it said she worked for a charity collecting money for the blind and deaf and seeking my details and a donation. Something didn’t feel right and handed back the clipboard and said no. Luckily my stranger danger was working as I later found out that the scam involved them phishing some details about you, but more importantly there was a watcher observing you as you pulled out your wallet to fish out your donation. Later you would be followed and if an opportunity arose pick pocketed. The second time something odd came up was when I was wandering around the park near the Tor. Here I was approached by two seemingly overly friendly “Brazilians” asking me to take their photo. I initially declined and after a bit of persuasion accepted. The backdrop of the photo was an open grassy patch of land and my amateur photographer self realised that this too was a scam. After handing back the phone I kept walking. Despite the attempt to shake my hand and hug. Even if it were genuine I couldn’t afford to be naive. On the way back to the Tor after having walked 2 km I saw the gents again. They were roaming up and down the park looking for unsuspecting travellers.

Finally after two stranger-danger moments I found my way to the tour group where we learnt about various monuments around the area. At that moment it occurred to me that Germany as a whole was being squashed by their guilt and oppression of both WWII and the East/West Germany error. 100 years of history causing a large shadow over the great Prussian empire. I decided that the next day (and my final day) that I would go to Potsdam instead of the war museums and the like. Potsdam was a town not too far from Berlin, where I could learn of German Kaisers and a bit about Germany history. I find Nazi and East/West Germany too depressing….

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Michael Ngo

Late bloomer who suddenly got the itch to travel more.

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