Romania – Bran’s Castle, Brasov

Can’t say I haven’t been waiting for this. 🙂 
Flying to Romania! Always feels so surreal, flying to these places I’ve always heard about (or not,) or read about. Romania! I have this strange impression of scams and/or prostitution / human trafficking for some reason. Is it because those chain emails used to say they’re from Romania or something? 
 
My makeshift bed at Rome Ciampino airport, to catch my 630am flight.
There was unlimited wifi, it wasn’t too cold, many people were creating space and sleeping as well. There was a charging port in the middle and people crowded around to charge their things. At about midnight a girl asked if she could use my phone. We chatted for a bit – about the States, about Donald Trump and her skepticism at his campaign, what she was going to do in Italy and Istanbul… I remember her name started with a D. She was really cute and bubbly.
As crazy as this sounds, she REALLY reminded me of
Baby bop, whom name I’ve just found out, but whose image stuck in my head
(this is me, a few months later, speaking)
ok random



These vampire-esque souvenirs are found particularly in Bran, though. Not so much in Bucharest.
Changed money at airport at the rate of 4.05 lei for each euro – mistake. From the airport I was heading straight to Bran (through Bucharest). The central town of Brasov gives the rate of 4.5. Lesson learnt – change just enough at the airport and leave the rest for the central square, you’ll definitely see one, 98% of the time. I don’t usually notice the difference in rates, but this one, this difference is significant enough for me to slap my head. 
 
I was trying to buy my bus ticket to the central station when a Romanian girl and I started talking. Things noted: Romania and Roman vampires, she’s allergic to garlic and onions and her colleagues in Czech laugh at her for it. We spoke a little longer and she said she suddenly remembers the Singapore English accent – she took an online course on forensic science where the lecturer was from Singapore! 
 
I don’t have an accent! I said. 
 
Oh yes you do! She said, attempt to mimic what sounded like a very strange way of speaking, and we laughed. Was this really the way I sounded to her?? We do come across jokes about the Chinese / hk way of speaking English, but to hear how one perceives the ‘Singapore English accent’ feels strange. I suppose it’s one of those cases where we happily make fun of stereotypes but being the stereotyped group – it’s funny and I laugh – but I do feel a little, little strange nudging though I know it’s all gentle and in the name of fun.
 
Revisiting this memory months later draws me to a realisation that I associated an ‘accent’ with perhaps a connotation of an ‘Other’, perhaps something negative, prejudiced I suppose. I mean, thinking about it, everyone has an accent. I will work on that. 
As we talked I realized she’s been on CS for years now, and it’s nice to feel this invisible thread that binded us within the community. 


At night I walked around Brasov freezing. Damn, it’s going to get worse, this Balkan winter. I noticed antique shops, bookstores, bread / pretzels everywhere. Romania prints. Interesting how a day here reveals things I never knew. See, part of the joy in travelling is finding out things you never thought about, digging questions you’d never ask. What’s all this pretzel doing in Romania? What Dracula? The flag of Romania. The patterns and outfits. Their bus system. Their buildings. The people and their features. 




Driving up to Bran
The landscape slowly changes to a barren white 
 
 
 





reminds me of some medieval paintings







oh, gloom, gloom.


I find it interesting that an Irish writer, Bram Stoker, has influenced the tourism landscape of Romania. There were many locals selling vampire-related souvenirs near Bran Castle, the castle that apparently inspired Dracula. If not for this story that was written and popularised, they would likely be doing something else. Brasov might just be a more quiet little town, but the tourism landscape here is definitely inclined towards the ‘vampire’ storyline.

Haunted houses established, keychains, cups..

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