Tuesday Night, 24 November [9.30pm]
I land in Berlin, finally, after a three-hour layover in Moscow (all the women look like dolls! But what happened to the men…?) An airport worker pushing an elderly’s wheelchair ran over my foot, and now I’m bleeding from the ankle. Not the best start.
My body goes into shock the moment I step outside the airport in search of a taxi. It’s 1 degree Celsius. As I was leaving Hong Kong, the weather was perfect: mid-20s, sunny, clear blue skies. I thought to myself, What am I doing? I must be crazy to leave this for freezing temperatures and 4pm sunsets!
But I’m here now, and I’d better make the most of it. Von Imhoff told me, Christmas is the best time to come to Germany! The season is meant to be celebrated here unlike anywhere else in the world. And we have winter clothes to lend you enough for an Arctic expedition.
I had no sleep at all on the airplane, but I force myself to walk around anyway. Bad idea. My body begins to break down from exhaustion and shock, I guess this is what it’s like for people unused to the tropics when they suffer sun stroke – which never happens to an island girl like me. I begin to tremble and contract from the stomach, my knees buckling and I think, maybe I’m actually going to throw up right here, on the street.
The next day, I know better. I have thermals under my jeans, gloves for my hands, a blanket for a scarf, a hat, earmuffs. Now how to keep my nose warm?
A few days later, at a Christmas market, the hot chocolate vendor tells me robustly, how great the weather is! See how everyone is out and about?
I stare at him as if he’s crazy. He must be joking.